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2014 National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention will conduct our Eighth Annual Pet Obesity Awareness Day survey.

In order to do this, we need your help. On October 8, we are asking you to record simple information for each pet that you perform a routine examination on that day. How many pets and the detail of information you obtain is up to you. Continue reading “2014 National Pet Obesity Awareness Day” »

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Pet Obesity Remains at Epidemic Levels According to New Research

Obesity Plagues Pets, Industry Being Challenged to Effect Change

CALABASH, N.C., MARCH 31, 2014—Most of the nation’s pets are overweight, and a majority of their owners are blind to the issue. New research, released by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), tells an alarming story. Veterinarians who assessed pets for the recent study recognized that more than half are overweight or obese. Cats carry the largest share of the obesity burden with 57.6 percent of the population recorded as overweight or obese. The dog population is close behind, with 52.6 percent of canines being classified as weighing too much.

“Among all diseases that perplex the veterinary community and plague our population of pets, obesity has the greatest collective negative impact on pet health, and yet it is almost completely avoidable,” said Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinarian and founder of APOP. “The pet industry is mighty and well-meaning, but it’s time we stop accepting the status quo. We must start working together to fight obesity through knowledge and action.”

Abundant Health Risks

Obesity by itself is classified as a disease, but the health conditions associated with obesity reveal the heart of the epidemic’s impact on pets and their owners. Osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, joint injury, various forms of cancer and decreased life expectancy are all linked to obesity in pets. “The body of evidence indicating that obesity causes costly and painful conditions is clear,” according to Dr. Joe Bartges, a veterinary nutritionist and internist who serves on the APOP board and as Small Animal Clinical Sciences department head at University of Tennessee Knoxville’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Without the obesity risk factor in place, the likelihood of pets getting many serious diseases is inarguably reduced.”

The Fat Gap

Pet owners who agreed to have their pets assessed for the study were first asked to classify their pets’ weight. Among all pets that veterinarians ultimately classified as obese, a whopping 93 percent of dog owners and 88 percent of cat owners initially thought their pet was in the normal weight range. APOP refers to this disparity as the “fat gap.”

“The fat gap is rampant and we believe it’s the primary factor in the pet obesity epidemic,” said Bartges. Primary knowledge gaps also include the basics of how much food pets should get daily. “There’s an entire nation of pet owners who are loving their pets to death with too many calories and not enough exercise. They are in the dark that their pets are overweight and that a host of diseases can arise as a result,” Bartges said.

Awareness at Core of Problem

Since the fat gap has been around for years, a new online poll of U.S. pet owners conducted by APOP sought to better understand the dynamics of pet obesity. The survey indicated that 42 percent of dog and cat owners admitted they don’t know what a healthy weight for their pets looks like.

While most owners of overweight pets either don’t realize or can’t tell that their pet is obese, the pet owner poll indicated one ultimate obesity risk that resonates. Seventy-two percent of owners believe that obesity causes a decreased lifespan in pets. “There have been many news headlines about obesity causing grave diseases and conditions in humans, and I believe most pet owners are aware of this, so they associate the same risks with their pets,” Bartges said. “But until more pet owners recognize that their pet is in the obesity danger zone, we can’t expect them to make changes.”

Call for Action

This year, APOP will lead the creation of an industry coalition to amplify the organization’s impact. The APOP coalition will invite partnerships with organizations that share the common goal of fighting obesity and supporting pets and their owners to create the healthiest household possible. Through the strength of the coalition, APOP will better continue its mission of raising awareness of pet obesity and fighting the epidemic through the power of knowledge and actionable tools.

About the Research

The annual obesity prevalence survey is conducted by APOP. Veterinary practices that participated assessed the body condition scores of every dog and cat patient they saw for a regular wellness exam on a given day in October. Body condition scores based on a five-point scale and actual weight were used in classifying pets as either underweight, ideal, overweight or obese. The latest survey included the assessment of 1,421 dogs and cats. The supplementary online pet owner study was conducted by Trone Brand Energy in December 2013 and included 590 U.S. pet owners.

About APOP

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention was founded in 2005 by Dr. Ernie Ward with the primary mission of documenting pet obesity levels in the United States to raise awareness of the issue and its negative impact on pets. The APOP board is made up of veterinary nutritionists and internal medicine specialists. The Association conducts annual research to substantiate pet obesity prevalence levels in the United States and offers resources and tools to veterinarians and pet owners to better equip them to recognize and fight pet obesity. APOP will announce an industry alliance in 2014 with the goal of increasing the organization’s effectiveness.

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

SEE BELOW FOR DOWNLOADABLE DATA SHEETS

On Wednesday, October 9, 2013, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention will conduct our Seventh Annual Pet Obesity Awareness Day survey.

In order to do this, we need your help. On October 10 we are asking you to record simple information for each pet that you perform a routine examination on that day. How many pets and the detail of information you obtain is up to you. Obviously more is better but our goal is to determine more accurately the exact number of pets in the United States that are overweight or obese. Our past experience demonstrates that this should add no more than 1-2 minutes to your normal physical examination routine.

If you are interested, simply complete the form and we will contact you with handouts, instructions, and measuring tapes to complete the study. This study is independent of any and all corporate sponsorships or involvements. It is important that this study remain neutral to protect the integrity and interpretation of results. If you have any suggestions, questions, or concerns feel free to contact me directly: DrErnieWard@gmail.com or 910-579-5550.

Please help us in our fight against obesity.

Join the 2013 Study

Veterinarian Sign Up












Pet Owner Sign Up



Documents

1392328881_pdfPet Obesity Awareness Day Study Instructions 2013

1392328881_pdfPet Obesity Day Study Data Sheets 2013

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  • 2012_APOP_CATS
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2012 National Pet Obesity Survey Results

Pet Obesity Rates Rise, Cats Heavier Than Ever

Fifty-five Percent of U.S. Dogs and Cats Overweight in Latest Veterinary Survey

 

Calabash, N.C., March 12, 2013 – U.S. pet obesity rates continued to increase in 2012 with the number of overweight cats reaching an all-time high. The sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals approximately 80 million U.S. dogs and cats at increased risk for weight-related disorders such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and many cancers.

52.5% of US Dogs Overweight or Obese or approximately 36.7 million

58.3% of US Cats Overweight or Obese or approximately 43.2 million

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 8.39.50 AM“Pet obesity remains the leading health threat to our nation’s pets.” states APOP’s founder and lead veterinarian for the survey Dr. Ernie Ward. “We continue to see an escalation in the number of overweight cats and an explosion in the number of type 2 diabetes cases.”

New York-based veterinary endocrinologist and APOP board member Dr. Mark Peterson agrees. “The soaring rate of feline and canine obesity is taking a terrible toll on our animals’ health. There is a vast population of overweight cats and dogs facing an epidemic of diabetes. The best preventive measure a pet owner can make is to keep their dog or cat at a healthy weight. Diabetes is far easier to prevent than treat, especially when twice daily insulin injections are needed.”

Veterinary nutritionist and internal medicine specialist at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Joe Bartges cautions that many pet owners don’t recognize when their pet is overweight. “In this survey, approximately 45 percent of cat and dog owners assessed their pet as having a normal body weight when the veterinarian assessed the pet to be overweight.” Dr. Ward calls the phenomenon of incorrectly evaluating an overweight pet as normal “the fat gap.” “The disconnect between reality and what a pet parent thinks is obese makes having a conversation with their veterinarian more challenging. Many pet owners are shocked when their veterinarian informs them their pet needs to lose weight. They just don’t see it.”

Certain breeds showed greater risk for excess weight. Veterinary healthcare providers classified 58.9 percent of Labrador retrievers and 62.7 percent of golden retrievers surveyed as overweight or obese. Surgical specialist Dr. Steve Budsberg of the University of Georgia is particularly concerned about the development of weight-related musculoskeletal conditions. “Once again, our data shows that obesity is rampant and we are certainly setting up more and more dogs and cats for joint problems during their lives. This results in hundreds of millions of dollars in medical bills and countless surgical procedures for weight-related conditions. As a veterinary surgeon I find this extremely frustrating; this disease is easily treatable and even simpler to prevent. Feed your pet less, exercise them more and see your veterinarian at least once a year.”

Dr. Ward also sees a clear connection between pet and childhood obesity rates. “The causes of pet and childhood obesity are largely the same: too many high-calorie foods and snacks combined with too little physical activity. Parents need to encourage children to put down their video games and pick up the dog leash to go for a walk. Instead of snacking on sugary treats, share crunchy vegetables with your dog. Eat more whole foods instead of highly processed fast food.”

“This is a war veterinarians, pet owners and parents must win. Obesity is the number one preventable medical condition seen in veterinary hospitals today and is the fastest growing health threat of our nation’s children. Our goal is to help pets and people live longer, healthier, and pain-free lives by maintaining a healthy weight, proper nutrition, and physical activity. The most important decision a pet owner makes each day is what they choose to feed their pet. Choose wisely. Your pet’s life depends on it.”

Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

  • The 2012 survey, conducted in October and December 2012, analyzed data from 121 veterinary clinics in 36 states
  • 1,485 dogs and 450 cats were assessed
  • Cats: 4.4% male, 49.6% male neutered, 6.2% female, 39.8% female spayed
  • Dogs: 8.4% male, 39.1% male neutered, 6.0% female, 46.5% female spayed
  • Median age of surveyed pets: Dogs – 6 years of age, Cats – 6 years of age
  • Dogs and cats were classified by veterinary clinics as: BCS 1 – Underweight, BCS 2 – Thin but normal, BCS 3 – Ideal weight, BCS 4 – Overweight, BCS 5 – Obese
  • Based on 2012 survey results and 2012 American Veterinary Medical Association data 80 million U.S. dogs and cats are overweight or obese.
  • Based on 2012 survey results and 2012 American Veterinary Medical Association data
    • An estimated 43.2 million cats or 58.3% are overweight or obese (74.1 million U.S. pet cats, 2012 AVMA)
      • 29.3 million cats BCS 4 – Overweight
      • 13.9 million cats BCS 5 – Obese
    • An estimated 36.7 million dogs or 52.5% are overweight or obese (70 million U.S. pet dogs, 2012 AVMA)
      • 25.7 million dogs BCS 4 – Overweight
      • 11 million dogs BCS 5 – Obese
  • Labrador retrievers were the most common pure breed in the study (141/1485, 9.5% total surveyed)
    • 58.9% were classified as overweight or obese
      • 42.6% – Overweight
      • 16.3% – Obese
  • German shepherds had the lowest reported pure breed Obesity (BCS 5) rate of 2.1%
  • 45.8% of dog owners incorrectly identified their overweight or obese dogs as “normal weight” when asked by their veterinary clinic to assess their pet’s current body condition (pet owner’s choices were too thin, normal, overweight, obese)
  • 45.3% of cat owners incorrectly identified their overweight or obese cats as “normal weight” when asked by their veterinary clinic to assess their pet’s current body condition (pet owner’s choices were too thin, normal, overweight, obese)

2012_APOP

 

 

 

 

 

 

APOP_2012

 

 

 

 

CONTACT:

Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT

DrErnieWard@gmail.com

910-620-1295 / 910-579-5550

Mark Peterson, DVM, Dip. ACVIM

drpeterson@animalendocrine.com

212-362-2650

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

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 www.PetObesityPrevention.com or www.DrErnieWard.com .

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