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Pet Obesity Awareness Surveys for Pet Owners

Thank you for helping us better understand pet obesity. Please take a few minutes to complete one or both of these surveys.

The first survey allows you to record your pet’s weight data. You will need to weigh your pet as accurately as possible. You may weigh yourself, then weigh yourself holding your pet and record the difference.  

 Click here to enter your pet’s weight information

The second survey concerns pet owner’s attitudes about pet obesity, diet and exercise. It consists of 10 simple questions that will take only a couple of minutes to complete.

Click here to take the 2011 National Pet Obesity survey

Thank you for your help. Your efforts will help veterinarians better understand pet obesity and provide pets with better medical care.

Please share with your friend’s on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

  • 2010PetObesityStudy

Fat Pets Getting Fatter According to Latest Survey

NOTE: These are the 2010 survey results. 2011 results will be released Tuesday, February 7, 2012

(Calabash, NC – February 23, 2011)
Over Half the Nation’s Dogs and Cats Now Overweight Costing Pet’s Years and Owners Millions.

Obesity continues to expand in both pets and people according to the latest pet obesity study. The fourth annual Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Study found approximately 53% of cats and 55% of dogs were overweight or obese. Preliminary data released from a nationwide collaboration with Banfield, the nation’s largest chain of veterinary clinics, reveals pet obesity continues to be a serious problem. APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward remarks, “This year’s data suggests that our pets are getting fatter. We’re seeing a greater percentage of obese pets than ever before.”

32% of cats in the preliminary sample were classified as overweight by their veterinarian and 21.6% were observed to be clinically obese or greater than 30% of normal body weight. 35% of dogs were found to be overweight and 20.6% obese. “While the general trend of overweight pets has remained fairly steady at around 50%, the number of obese pets is growing. This is troubling because it means more pets will be affected by weight-related diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease costing pet owners millions in avoidable medical costs.”

The group began conducting nationwide veterinary surveys in 2007 and has seen a steady increase in the percentage of pets classified as obese or at least 30% above normal body weight. In 2007, roughly 19% of cats were found to be obese by their veterinarian and in 2010 that number increased to almost 22%. For dogs, obesity rates escalated from just over 10% in 2007 to 20% in 2010. “One of the reasons we think the obesity rate for dogs has dramatically increased is due to a better understanding of what an obese dog looks like. Veterinarians also realize how critical it is to tell a pet owner when their dog is in danger due to its weight.” comments Ward.

Proof that pet obesity is an important topic among veterinarians is the fact that the nation’s largest group of veterinary clinics, Banfield Pet Hospital, joined APOP in this year’s study. “Banfield is committed to improving the health and well-being of pets—weight-related disorders are a major concern for us,” states Dr. Elizabeth Lund, a veterinary epidemiologist and Banfield’s Senior Director of Research. “Preventive care is at the core of Banfield’s mission and we are incorporating weight assessment and counseling into each patient visit.”

Increased awareness can help prevent serious injuries. “As a surgeon, many of the joint problems I treat are related to excess weight. If pet owners could keep their pet at a normal weight, many of these surgeries could be avoided.” remarks Dr. Steven Budsberg of the University of Georgia and past-president of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. “Even more important is the impact obesity has on joints and the arthritic changes that are often crippling. Many overweight pets experience severe joint pain that could easily be prevented by proper diet and exercise.”

Ward sums it up, “The bottom line with our annual surveys is that pets are battling excess weight just as their owners are. Our ultimate goal is to help pet owners better care for both themselves and their pets through better diet, exercise and lifestyle strategies.”

APOP Study Preliminary Data

133 adult cats

383 adult dogs

29 clinics representing 29 US states

average age of dogs 6 years, 2 months

average age of  cats 7 years, 4 months

Of the patients participating in the APOP survey on 10/13/2010, 35% of dogs and 31.6% of cats were overweight, while 20.6 and 21.8% were obese, respectively. Overall, 55.6% of dogs and 53.4% of cats were either overweight or obese.

From the initial dataset, 35% of dogs and 32.1% of cats were overweight and 20.6% of dogs and 21.6% of cats were obese. Overall, 55.6% of dogs and 53.7% of cats were either overweight or obese. 6.7% of cats were classified as “thin” or body condition score of 2. 5.2% of dogs were reported as BCS 2. No cats in the study were found to be “underweight” or BCS 1 while 0.26% of dogs were underweight.

Based on these initial estimates, approximately 50 million cats and 43 million dogs are believed to be overweight or obese.

More complete data analysis will be available in a forthcoming peer-reviewed veterinary medical journal.

Body Condition Score (BCS)

1 = Underweight, 2 = Thin but Normal, 3 = Normal, 4 = Overweight, 5 = Obese

Obese Cat – 19 pounds, Ideal weight 10 lbs.

Analogous to a 5’4” female adult weighing 276 lbs (131 lbs over maximum normal weight of 145 lbs) or 5’9” male weighing 321 lbs. (152 lbs. over maximum normal weight of 169 lbs)

Obese Dog – 48 lbs, Ideal weight 20-22 lbs.

Analogous to a 5’4” female adult weighing 317 lbs (172 lbs over maximum normal weight of 145 lbs) or 5’9” male weighing 368 lbs. (199 lbs over maximum normal weight of 169 lbs)


Dr. Ernie Ward



Dr. Steven Budsberg


Dr. Elizabeth Lund


APOP Featured in Wall Street Journal

Two Executive Board members for APOP were featured in the February 22, 2011 issue of the Wall Street Journal. Reporter Gwendolyn Bounds looked at the issues surrounding the pet obesity epidemic in an in-depth review.

The article may be read here.

Top pet fitness and weight loss products of 2010

Download a pdf of this report by clicking here
Download pictures of products here

Calabash, NC—December 2, 2010. Half of the nearly 171 million dogs and cats in the US are now overweight. The pet industry is helping combat the pet obesity epidemic by developing innovative and effective exercise and weight loss products. Once again the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) is proud to announce its annual Top Pet Fitness and Weight Loss Products for 2010. If you’re looking to give your pet a healthy gift this holiday season, consider these offerings.

Harnesses and Leashes

“Exercise is critical to keeping your pet fit and healthy,” states Dr. Ernie Ward, Founder and President of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and lead product researcher. “A comfortable leash and harness system is a must for exercising with your dog.”

Canicross Belt – Canadog

What is canicross, you ask? Our testers were scratching their heads at first, too. Imagine trail running while being pulled by your dog and you’re pretty close. “While canicross has been popular in Europe for the past 20 years, our dog tester’s lack of familiarity with the sport didn’t deter them from loving this walking belt.”  observes Dr. Ward. “The fact that you leash up your dog (or dogs) to the waist belt keeps your hands free for a wide variety of exercises and or sports.” comments Melissa Morrison, trainer with Fur Fitness in Upland, California. The belt comes complete with a snug bottle holder and a pouch perfect for a cell phone, keys, and or sanitary bags. An optional collapsible water bowl is recommended for longer treks. Morrison sums it up, “This is a product that could change someone’s life.  It makes one want out of their sedentary lifestyle and get outside to be active with your companion.”


Tru-Fit Smart Harness – Kurgo

“We’re always on the lookout for everyday accessories that have multiple uses. This is a not only a great walking harness for your dog, but also a car restraint device.” notes Dr. Ward. Testers liked that they could easily slip on the harness and attach it to their existing seatbelts for a quick trip to the park.


Wacky Walk’R

“The Wacky Walk’r is a bonafide eye-catcher; with its bright colors and unique blend of standard, sturdy leash material that seamlessly connects to the more prominent “wacky” or “stretchy” part of this connector.” says Melissa Morrison. The “wacky” Morrison is referring to is a length of rubber tubing that stretches if/when your dog pulls on the leash. “I’d much rather people teach their dog to walk without pulling; however, squirrels happen. This leash is great for taking the stress out of those occasional lunges.” responds Ward.



“Play is an important part of keeping pets physically and mentally healthy,” emphasizes Ward. “While there is no substitute for one-on-one interaction, we’ve found some toys that can ramp up the fun for everyone.”

Wood Chuck with Orbee-Tuff RecycleBall – Planet Dog

“This year we were looking for environmentally-conscious products,” reveals tester Joanne Shumbo. “As the proud mama of two active rescues, this is exactly the type of toy we were looking for.” Throw after throw, the all-natural chucker allowed even the most petite dog owner to throw a ball long distances. The wood chuck is made of durable bamboo and reused cork scraps while the ball is made from “regrinded” rubber that normally would be discarded.


Go get it! – Petmate

“We’ve tested many ball launchers. What makes this product innovative is that it collapses for easy storage.” explains Dr. Ward. The 24” Go get it! uses regular tennis balls and shrinks to less than 10” for easy carrying. “I’ve got one stowed in my glove box for impromptu fetch sessions.”  says Ward.


Sway – FroliCat

“Cat owners never tire of watching cats bat things around,” jokes Joanne Shumbo. “This new toy does just that – and only that.”   Made by the same folks that brought us Dr. Ward’s favorite cat exercise device of 2009, Sway promises to provide hours of essential play for your cat. “I like the simplicity and the fact that my own cats couldn’t get enough of it.” says Ward. “I don’t think it will replace my Bolt, but it has quickly become one of our family’s favorite cat toys.”


Dog Casino – Nina Ottosson

We’ve got to confess: we have a crush on Nina Ottosson products. Maybe it’s the sleek lines, Euro-chic styling or the fact they’re so smart – whatever it is we can’t seem to get enough of it. This year we’re crushing on the Dog Casino. Basically a really cool food puzzle, your dog must dislodge several removable bones and then open hidden doors to hit the treat jackpot. As your dog learns how to beat the house, you can increase the difficulty. “My dog Sandy is still on the easiest setting,” discloses Dr. Ward. “We’re guessing she just isn’t a very good gambler.”


My Agility Set (Toy) – Oscar Newman Luxury Pet Couture

This is one toy too cute to ignore. Imagine a real grown-up dog agility set made out of tiny, soft pastel-colored poles and tunnels. If you’re the owner of a toy breed that needs to get active, this is just what your stylist ordered. “What I like about this toy breed agility set is that it allows you to exercise them without ever touching, dare I say it, dirt.” jokes Dr. Ward. Commence making You Tube videos.


Technology Products

“I am a techie-geek-exercise enthusiast.” states Dr. Ernie Ward. “Each year I love trying out the cool gadgets and figuring out what helps people and pets get fit together.”


“Wow. That’s what everyone said after seeing this product.” gushes Dr. Ward. “With our busy schedules, work and dogs, we’re always mixing up medications, feeding and no one ever knows if the dogs got walked.” shares tester Julie Mullins. Wonder no more; the Dog-e-Minder is a small device that looks like a dog tag but does a whole lot more. When you walk, feed or give your pet’s meds simply press the corresponding button and it records it. To see when you last walked your dog, press the button and the device displays it. “Until we have the ‘Dog Translator Collar’ from the movie ‘UP,’ this is as close as we’re going to get.” remarks Ward.


SpotLight GPS Pet Locator

“Every dog owner’s greatest fear is losing their pet.” observes Mullins.  “This is one way to reduce that worry.” Weighing less than 3 ounces, the small box attaches to your dog’s collar. The GPS uses satellites and a cell-phone connection to help locate your dog. “This device is so smart it texts and emails you when the rechargeable battery is low.” Comments Ward. “You can set up safe zones and be alerted if your dog leaves those areas. You can track your dog’s location online to retrieve them should they escape.” The device also boasts an LED beacon that can be activated to help you see your lost dog in the dark. While not cheap, the peace-of-mind the SpotLight provides is priceless.



Ever imagine what it looks like to eat kibble from a dish? How clean is the inside of that litter box, anyway? These and other answers to silly questions can be found by using this itsy-bitsy video camera that your pet wears on its collar. “The reason we liked this product was that it is really cool.” Muses Ward. “The ability to record and share your dog’s run from their point of view is motivation to go do it for many.” My Agility Set + Eyenimal = You Tube Sensation.


Other Products

FitPaws Balance Disc – Ball Dynamics

We love exercising with balance balls, disks and all sorts of devices that strengthen our core. Now your dog can love it, too. This hard rubber half-ball is just the right size for dogs and is a great addition to any canine core workout. “I like balance disks because you can exercise your dog indoors and are great for building legs muscles weakened by surgery or arthritis.” says Ward. “Games like ‘high-low’ become much easier to play.” Our testers liked the almost limitless games you can engage your dog in and the fact that even our tiniest testers had a ball (pun intended).


HyperKewl Evaporative Cooling Dog Coat – TechNiche International

What do the military, police and high-tech construction workers have in common? Many work in extreme heat conditions. Your dog can now benefit from the same technology that keeps our fighting forces cool in the Middle East. “If you have a giant or long-haired dog, running in the summer months can pose a health hazard for your pet.” remarks Dr. Ward. “To combat potential hyperthermia or heat stroke, we liked the HyperKewl coat.” You soak the vest and it cools your dog for 5 to 10 hours, according to the manufacturer.


CocoTherapy Coconut Chips

Coconuts have become the HOT health food for 2010 – and pets are no exception to this trend. “The coconut chips are a great healthy snack with some noteworthy, healthy side-effects.” states Melissa Morrison of FurFitness. “Coconuts are an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein and many vitamins and minerals.” says Dr. Ward. These dehydrated chips are low in calories and an excellent natural treat for dogs.


See Me Reflective Leash and Collar Covers – Pat Bay International

Many dog owners walk their dogs when there’s little light out – early in the morning and late at night. We don’t mind. What we want is for others to be able to see you. Enter the See Me. This handy little product slips over your existing collar or leash and – presto – you’ve got a highly visible reflective protector. Testers liked the fact that this inexpensive reflector worked with their designer doggie duds. “I’ve already got a leash and collar combo I really liked, only they weren’t reflective.” says tester Joanne Shumbo. “This solved my winter walking woes.”


All products mentioned are trademarks of their respective owners.

About this Report and Product Selection

None of the products tested and selected were obtained free of charge nor did APOP inform the product manufacturers that their product was being considered. Further, the manufacturers did not contact APOP or product testers during the evaluation process. The manufacturers were notified of their selection only after the final report was complete. Products were rated on innovation, practicality, availability, cost/benefit, durability, ease of use, and pet/owner acceptance.

About APOP and Dr. Ward

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention is an independent organization not associated with any veterinary pharmaceutical, pet food, or other veterinary industry organization founded in 2005. Dr. Ernie Ward is a licensed veterinarian, certified personal trainer, and USA Triathlon accredited coach. He and APOP help people and pets lose weight and sustain a healthy lifestyle by creating parallel weight loss and lifestyle programs.


Dr. Ernie Ward 910-579-5550

Melissa Morrison 877-387-3486

# # #

What Not to Feed Your Pet: Vets Warn Pet Owners on National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

For Immediate Release

Calabash, North Carolina – Oct. 7, 2010 – Everyone’s heard that we humans have a little weight problem. Okay, a huge weight problem. Studies show we’re now sharing those excess pounds with our pets. On October 13, 2010, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) will set out once again to determine how many of our furry friends are too fat.

“As a practicing veterinarian for almost twenty years, I’ve never seen this many overweight pets.” remarks Dr. Ernie Ward, founder and president of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. “We’re witnessing the super-sizing of America’s pets before our very eyes.”

All that super-sizing carries a hefty price. Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) claims it pays out over $14 million in weight-related claims each year. “It’s not only the cost in tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in largely preventable medical expenses that concerns me.” reports Dr. Ward. “It’s the incalculable suffering and needless loss of life that compels me to take action against obesity. Pet obesity is by far the greatest health threat our pets face.”

APOP will conduct its fourth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Study October 13, 2010 in almost 1,000 veterinary clinics nationwide. “This year we’ve teamed up with Banfield Pet Hospital, the largest group of veterinary clinics in North America, to increase the number of pets in the study. Banfield’s commitment to helping us wage the war against pet obesity is a welcome addition to our efforts.”

Last year’s study revealed 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats were classified as overweight or obese by their vets. This equals almost 90 million pets at risk for developing diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney and respiratory disease and many forms of cancer.

Ward says high calorie treats are a major cause of the problem. “Many of today’s treats are so full of sugar and fat that I call them “Kibble Crack” because they can cause the same sorts of changes to brain chemistry as illicit drugs.” Ward goes further to state that pets are often fed several treats per day. “I’m not against treats; I’m against too many treats. It’s no different than eating dessert at breakfast, lunch and supper and then enjoying a few in-between meal snacks. We’ve become a nation of mega-treaters.”

In Ward’s book on pet obesity, “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter,” he calculates the impact even small treats have on a dog’s weight. “If an average 20-pound dog eats a Snausages SnawsomesPeanut Butter and Apple Flavor treat, it’s the same as an average human eating half of a large Domino’s Pizza with Extra Cheese.”

Other of Ward’s “What Not to Feed” treats include:

– 1 Purina Busy Bone, size small/medium fed to a 40-pound dog is similar to an adult eating 4 McDonald’s Egg McMuffins
– 1 Milk-Bones Large Dog Biscuit fed to a 60-pound dog is the same as an adult eating 1 Snickers Bar
– 1 Pup-Peroni fed to a 10-pound dog is equal to an adult eating a Little Debbie Fudge Brownie
– 1 Premium Pig Ear fed to a 40-pound dog is no different than an adult drinking 6 12-ounce Coke Classics
– ½ hot dog wiener fed to a 20-pound dog is equivalent to an adult eating an 8-ounce choice, lean broiled T-bone steak
– ½ tablespoon Jif Creamy Peanut Butter fed to a 40-pound dog is the same as an adult eating 1 McDonald’s Sausage Patty
– 1 McDonald’s Cheeseburger eaten by a 60-pound dog is similar to an adult munching on 2 Taco Bell Taco Supremes and 1 20-ounce Coke Classic

“Because pet treats aren’t required to list calories on their labels, most pet owners aren’t aware of the dangers many treats pose. Our organization’s goal is to raise awareness about the causes and treatments for pet obesity in order to help pets and people live longer, healthier lives.”

For more information, visit

Dr. Ernie Ward
9256 Beach Drive
Calabash, NC 28469
Ph: 910-579-5550

How Fat Is That Doggie in Your Window?

Pet Weight Translator Compares Weights of Portly Pets to Pudgy People

Calabash, North Carolina – August 2, 2010 – Vets concerned about the growing pet obesity epidemic want people to know that a 12 pound Yorkie is the same as an average female weighing 218 pounds and a 14 pound cat is equivalent to a 237 pound man. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) has created an online pet weight translator and tables of the most common breeds that compare those extra pounds on our pets in terms of love handles we can all relate to.

APOP Founder and President Dr. Ernie Ward remarks on why the group created these tools.  “As a veterinarian I’m always looking for ways to demonstrate how serious even a few extra pounds on a pet can be. These tables and calculations put pet weights in human terms, making it easier to understand. For example, if I tell a client their female Lab is 20 pounds overweight, that doesn’t sound too bad. Owners think ‘It’s a big dog.’ If I tell them it’s the same as them weighing almost 190 pounds, suddenly the light bulb goes on. ‘My dog is fat.’”

More important than light bulbs flashing, Ward hopes to educate pet lovers about the dangers of pet obesity and poor nutrition.

“Over half the nation’s dogs and cats are now overweight making obesity the leading health threat of our pets. Largely preventable diseases such as arthritis and diabetes are being seen in record numbers costing pets their life and owners millions in medical bills. The reality most of these cases could be avoided simply by preventing weight gain and shedding excess pounds.”

So what can pet owners do to fight excess weight in their pets?

“The single most valuable tool a pet owner has in the fight against obesity is a measuring cup. Most pet owners don’t measure how much they’re feeding and even fewer know how much they should be feeding.” responds Ward.

To determine how many pounds on a pet equal those on a person, the group used average heights for men and women, 5 foot 9 inches and 5 feet 4 inches, respectively. They then used the normal range of the Body Mass Index (BMI), 18.5 to 24.9. These weights were then compared to a breed’s normal weight range.

Ward explains, “Our calculations were performed in the most conservative fashion. We used the upper range of ‘normal’ weights for women (145 pounds) and men (169 pounds) as well as the upper weight range for breeds as a starting point for our pet equivalents. When our charts state a 23 pound Shih tzu is equal to a 208 pound female, you can count on it.”

One of the key barriers to pet weight loss is owner’s denial of the problem which Ward calls the ‘fat gap.’

“Many owners incorrectly believe their pet is big. The reality is very few of us are the size of an NBA or NFL professional athlete. Those guys are large. By putting their pet’s weight in terms normal people can relate to, I can more easily explain why their pet is ‘fat,’ not ‘big.’”

Click here to see the Pet-to-Human Weight Translator

Other highlights of the data include:

–          90 pound female Labrador retriever is equal to a 186 pound 5’ 4” female or 217 pound 5’ 9” male

–          Every excess pound on a female Lab is equal to 4 to 5 pounds on a 5’ 4” female or 5’ 9” male

–          15 pound average DSH/DMH/DLH cat is equal to a 218 pound 5’ 4” female or 254 pound 5’ 9” male

–          Every excess pound on an average DSH/DMH/DLH cat is equal to 14 to 15 pounds on a 5’ 4” female or 17 pounds on a 5’ 9” male

–          15 pound average DSH/DMH/DLH cat is equal to a 218 pound 5’ 4” female or 254 pound 5’ 9” male

–          105 pound male Golden retriever is equal to a 203 pound 5’ 4” female or 237 pound 5’ 9” male

–          Every excess pound on a female Golden is equal to 4 to 5 pounds on a 5’ 4” female or 5’ 9” male

–          12 pound Pomeranian is equal to a 249 pound 5’ 4” female or 290 pound 5’ 9” male

–          Every excess pound on a Pomeranian is equal to 21 to 21 pounds on a 5’ 4” female or 24 to 25 pounds on a 5’ 9” male


Dr. Ernie Ward
9256 Beach Drive
Calabash, NC 28469
Ph: 910-579-5550


Pet Weight Translator

Did you realize a 12 pound Yorkie is the same as an average female weighing 218 pounds and a 14 pound cat is equivalent to a 237 pound man? Did you consider that a 90 pound female Labrador retriever is equal to a 186 pound 5’ 4” female or 217 pound 5’ 9” male or a fluffy feline that weighs 15 pounds (DSH) is equal to a 218 pound 5’ 4” female or 254 pound 5’ 9” male?

Use these weight equivalent charts to determine how much your pet weighs compared to an average adult human male or female. Click on breed/gender to view the charts.

Note: For comparative purposes only. Your pet’s actual body condition should be determined by your veterinarian. Not intended to be used as a substitute for BCS or medical evaluation.

click here for Pet Weight Translator press release

Pet-to-Human Weight Equivalent Charts

Click breed to download (PDF).

Cat German shepherd Miniature Poodle
Bassett hound German shorthaired pointer Female Miniature Schnauzer
Beagle German shorthaired pointer Male Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Boston terrier Golden retriever Female Pomeranian
Boxer Female Golden retriever Male Pug
Boxer Male Great Dane Female Rottweiler Female
Bulldog Female Great Dane Male Rottweiler Male
Bulldog Male Labrador retriever Female Shetland sheepdog
Chihuahua Labrador retriever Male Shih tzu
Cocker spaniel Maltese Standard Poodle;
Dachshund miniature Mastiff Yorkshire terrier
Dachshund standard Miniature pinscher  

Pet Weight Translator

Pet Weight Calculator

  • Sugar

Kibble Crack – Vet Exposes Sugary Secret of Pet Treats

Dr Ernie Ward exposes sugar in pet treats

Dr. Ernie Ward exposes sugar in pet treats

Click here for pdf of press release: Kibble Crack – Vet Exposes Sugary Secret of Pet Treats

(Calabash, NC – June 17, 2010)

Sugar is being added to many pet treats contributing to the growing pet obesity epidemic.

Today’s pet treats aren’t the dog bones of your childhood. Over the past decade, a surprising ingredient has begun to appear on pet treat ingredient lists: sugar.

Following the trend of sugar-laden children’s snacks, pet treat manufacturers are tapping into a dog’s sweet tooth to boost sales. “One of the key reasons I became involved with fighting pet obesity was when I began seeing sugar added to pet treats. I think if  more pet owners were aware of this, they may choose their treats more carefully.” says veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) and author of “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives” (2010 HCI). “When you have popular treats such as Snausages SnawSomes that list sugars as three of the first four ingredients, you know there’s a problem.”

And the problem is huge. APOP estimates that 45% of US dogs and 58% of cats are too heavy. That equals an estimated 89 million pets that are at high risk for developing conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.

Ward says the problem is linked to money – lots of it. With US pet treat sales estimated to be nearly $2 billion in 2010, the treat bowl has turned golden. “Sugar is incredibly attractive to dogs. If a dog gobbles a treat quickly, an owner is more likely to give another – and another.  This adds up to more sales – and profits. In the race for pet treat profits, our pets’ health is being bankrupted.”

Ward also contends that added sugar has behavioral consequences. “Numerous studies in rats demonstrate that overfeeding sugar can create symptoms similar to drug addiction. A dog’s daily sweet treat may be contributing to overeating and other undesirable behaviors. This is why I call today’s high-sugar treats ‘kibble crack.’”

Dr. Ernie Ward battles Pet Obesity

Sugar is being added to pet treats

Of course, pet treat manufacturers are quick to blame pet owners for the problem. After all, dogs and cats don’t buy or give these products themselves. Ward agrees – to a point. “Pet owners definitely have a feeding disorder when it comes to their pets. Ultimately it’s up to each owner to control how much they feed their pets. What I want to bring attention to is what ingredients are in pet treats – and why. Pet owners must begin to question why there is sugar in a treat that claims to help teeth.”

Ultimately both the pet food industry and Ward have pet’s best interest at heart. “Today we have some of the best pet foods and treats we’ve ever had. For that, I am grateful. At the same time, we’re seeing some of the unhealthiest products masquerading as wholesome and nutritious. It’s time we reveal the sugary secret that is contributing to obesity in pets.”

Dr. Ward’s Dirty Dozen – Popular Sugary Pet Treats

Pet Treat Added Sugar
Canine CarryOuts Chew-lotta Dextrose first ingredient
Snausages SnawSomes! Beef and Chicken Flavor Sugars 3 of first 4 ingredients
Pedigree Jumbone Mini Snack Food for Small Dogs Sugars 2 of 3 first ingredient
Petrodex Dental Treats for Cats Dextrose second ingredient
Pedigree Jumbone Sugar third ingredient
Milk Bone Essentials Plus Oral Care Sugar third ingredient
Pup-Peroni Lean Beef Recipe Sugar third ingredient
Science Diet Simple Essentials Treats Training Adult Treats with Real Beef Sugar third ingredient
Cesar Softies Dog Treats Sugar third ingredient
Milk-Bone Chewy Chicken Drumsticks Sugar third ingredient
Meow Mix Moist Cat Treats Corn syrup fourth ingredient
Pedigree Marrobone Sugar third ingredient

Other common sugar-containing treats according to Dr. Ernie Ward:

  • Pedigree Jumbone – Sugar third ingredient
  • Beneful Snackin’ Slices – Sugar fourth ingredient
  • Pit’r Pat Fresh Breath Mint Flavored Cat Treats – Maltodextrin first ingredient
  • Three Dog Bakery Lick ‘n Crunch – Dextrose third ingredient
  • Beneful Snackin Slices – Sugar fourth ingredient
  • Busy Chewnola – Maltodextrin second ingredient
  • Exclusively Dog Vanilla Flavor Sandwich Creme Dog Cookies – Sugars first two ingredients
  • Canine Carryouts Dog Treats – Corn syrup second ingredient

For more information, visit or .

Click here for pdf of press release: Kibble Crack – Vet Exposes Sugary Secret of Pet Treats

Additional images for download:

Dr Ernie Ward Sugar Pet Treats

Interview with the Washington Post

Dr. Ward was interviewed by the Washington Post through their new Live Q&A Chat.  Here is a little snippet from that interview. Click here to view the full interview conducted April 13, 2010


What is your opinion of giving dogs “people food”? I often give my dog a little scrambled egg or cottage cheese mixed in with her kibble, or a small piece of apple or meat, etc., while I’m cooking. And she loves asparagus! She’s definitely not overweight – we go to the beach for a good run every other day or so (she’s a Jack Russell Terrier – it’s her “medicine”). I know what people foods could cause potential problems and don’t give her those. And it’s exclusively natural, low-fat stuff. I just like to vary her diet and keep her interested in food because like many terriers, she’s not very food-oriented. But do you think that people food could lead to obesity more easily than dog food? I am careful to limit her eggs, cottage cheese, etc., to about a tablespoon. I’m wondering, too, if as she gets older (she’s 3 now), it becomes something I should give her less and less often?


Sounds like you’ve intuitively adopted what I call the “Hybrid Diet” in my book, “Chow Hounds.” I advocate adding real, whole foods to a dogs’ diet. Of course, if you add “real food, ” you’ll need to adjust the amount of dog food you’re feeding to maintain the proper caloric intake. The biggest mistake most pet owners make is feeding “people foods” (I really dislike that term – food is food, especially healthy food) and continuing to feed pet food without adjusting for calories. For example, let’s say your dog needs 400 calories per day to maintain its current healthy weight. You indulge and give her some people foods that have 200 calories. You’ll need to reduce her dog food by that 200 calories.

And this is where we get into a potential nutritional problem: if the food you fed is nutritionally incomplete… [Read More…]

Founder of APOP Writes Book on Dog Obesity

CHOW HOUNDS (2010 HCI) by Dr. Ernie Ward explores the factors that have contributed to the gradual deterioration of our pets’ health over the past several decades:  the ways that veterinarians are educated and how they practice nutrition; the seduction and manipulation by major pet food companies; this country’s insatiable urge to incorporate food into all aspects of life; and the subtle shift in how today’s perception of “normal” weight has changed over the years — and how that distortion is passed down to our dogs.

Check it out here: