Blog
Our latest news

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

  • 2012_APO_Survey_rotator
  • 2012_APOP_DOGS
  • 2012_APOP_CATS
  • 2012_APO_Survey_rotator

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

Big Pets Get Bigger: Latest Survey Shows Dog and Cat Obesity Epidemic Expanding

(Calabash, NC – February 6, 2012)

54% of Nation’s Pets Overweight According to Latest Veterinary Survey; Pet Owners in Denial

The “fat pet gap” continues to widen according to the latest nationwide survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). The fifth annual veterinary survey found 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats to be classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals 88.4 million pets that are too heavy according to veterinarians.

“The most distressing finding in this year’s study was the fact that more pet owners are unaware their pet is overweight.” comments APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward. “22 percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners characterized their pet as normal weight when it was actually overweight or obese. This is what I refer to as the “fat pet gap” or the normalization of obesity by pet parents. In simplest terms, we’ve made fat pets the new normal.”

Perhaps even worse was the finding that the number of obese pets, those at least 30 percent above normal weight or a body condition score (BCS) of 5, continues to grow despite 93.4 percent of surveyed pet owners identifying pet obesity as a problem. The study found 24.9 percent of all cats were classified as obese and 21.4 percent of all dogs were obese in 2011. That’s up from 2010 when 21.6 percent of cats and 20.6 percent of dogs were found to be obese. “What this tells us is that more and more of our pets are entering into the highest danger zone for weight-related disorders.” says Ward.

Some of the common weight-related conditions in dogs and cats include osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems, kidney disease, and shortened life expectancy. Orthopedic surgeon, APOP Board member and Director of Clinical Research at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Steve Budsberg states that “The prevention of obesity needs to be at the forefront of all discussions people have about the health of their pet with their veterinarian. The body of evidence that shows the negative impact of obesity on all the body’s systems is overwhelming. As an orthopedic surgeon I see, on a daily basis, the effects of obesity on dogs and cats with osteoarthritis. It is very frustrating to see how much pain and discomfort excess weight has on my patients. Veterinarians and owners have the ability to stop obesity in our pets. No animal goes to the refrigerator or the pantry and helps themselves. We enable our pets to get fat!”

Ward agrees. “Pet obesity is plainly a people problem, not a pet problem. The most important decision pet owners make each day regarding their pet’s health is what they choose to feed it.”

Endocrinologist and fellow APOP Board member Dr. Mark Peterson agrees. “Obesity in dogs and cats is not just the accumulation of large amounts of adipose tissue, but it is associated with important metabolic and hormonal changes in the body. For example, heavy or obese cats are up to four times more likely to develop diabetes as a complication of their obesity. Losing weight can lead to reversal of the diabetic state in some of these obese cats.”

Treats continue to be a major contributor to weight gain in pets. An online poll conducted in October 2011 by APOP of 210 pet owners found 93 percent of all dog and cat owners gave treats. 95 percent gave a commercial treat with 26 percent reporting they gave their pet treats three or more times a day. “Treats are the silent saboteur of slimming down.” remarks Ward. “Those tiny treats are often hiding a significant amount of calories.” Ward suggests offering single-ingredient rewards or fresh vegetables such as baby carrots, string beans, broccoli or other crunchy vegetables.

Veterinary nutritionist and internal medicine specialist Dr. Joe Bartges from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and APOP Board member notes that weight gain in pets can be prevented. “Prevention of obesity is much easier than treating it. The major obstacle is to convince pet owners what “overweight” and “obese” means and what it looks like. Veterinary health teams must educate the owner and work with them to prevent and treat obesity in their four-legged family members.”

Fat Cats Not In the Conversation

Only 49% of surveyed cat owners reported their veterinarian had discussed obesity and excess weight with them compared to 72% of dog owners. Even worse, only 46% of cat owners stated their veterinarian had reviewed nutrition or food choices compared to 86% of those with dogs. “This is a call to action for veterinarians; we must do a better job educating cat owners on obesity and preventive care.” says Dr. Ernie Ward.

Survey Notes

The survey was conducted at 41 US veterinary clinics and evaluated 459 dogs and 177 cats in October 2011. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians evaluated each pet to assess current weight, medical conditions, owner assessment of weight and body condition score. Over the five years studied, these results have proven to be consistent and increasing at a gradual pace.

Additional Survey Highlights

  • According to APOP’s survey results based on pet statistics from the American Pet Products Association, the following are estimated numbers of overweight and obese pets in 2011.
    • 41.1 million dogs classified as overweight or obese (BCS 4 or 5)
      • 53% adult dogs classified as overweight or obese (BCS 4 or 5)
      • 24.4 million dogs or 31.2% reported as overweight (BCS 4)
      • 16.7 million dogs or 21.4% reported obese (BCS 5)
  • 47.3 million cats classified as overweight or obese (BCS 4 or 5)
    • 55% adult cats classified as overweight or obese (BCS 4 or 5)
    • 25.8 million cats or 29.9% reported as overweight (BCS 4)
    • 21.5 million cats or 24.9% reported obese (BCS 5)
    • Only 8% of dog owners and 9% of cat owners classified their pet as obese in the online study. That’s less than half the actual figures determined by survey veterinarians. “The fact that few pet owners admit their pet is obese leads to a lack of interest in helping their pet lose weight. They know it’s a problem, just not for their pet. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t agree. Chances are their pet is overweight if not obese.” Dr. Ernie Ward
    • Average age of the cats in the study was 6.7 years and 6.4 years for dogs.
    • 16.8% of pet owners reported they purchased their pet food at a veterinary clinic, 61.1% at a pet store and 22.2% at a grocery store.
    • 76% of surveyed pet owners reported they learned about pet nutrition from their veterinarian, 71.5% from the internet, 22% from a pet store, 5.5% from a breeder, and 2.0% from a groomer. (multiple sources of information were allowed)
    • When it came to deciding which pet food to feed, 69.4% trusted their veterinarian, 36.3% a website, 20.6% a pet store, 4.4% a breeder, and 1.3% their groomer.
    • According to Dr. Ernie Ward, a 95-pound male Golden retriever is comparable to a 5’4” human female weighing 184 pounds or a 5’9” male that weighs 214 pounds.
    • A 10-pound Chihuahua is comparable to a 5’4” human female weighing 242 pounds or a 5’9” male that weighs 282 pounds.
    • A 15-pound domestic short-haired cat is comparable to a 5’4” human female weighing 218 pounds or a 5’9” male that weighs 254 pounds.
    • A premium pig ear (231 kcals) fed to a 40-pound dog is the equivalent of an adult human drinking six 12-ounce Coke Classics™ (840 kcals).
    • A typical dog biscuit (25 to 27 kcals) fed to a 20-pound dog is the equivalent of an average adult human eating two Keebler EL Fudge Double Stuffed Sandwich Cookies (180 kcals).
    • More weight and treat calculators can be found at www.PetObesityPrevention.org.

About APOP

Founded in 2005 by veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, APOP’s mission is to create and promote awareness of pet obesity and to develop parallel weight loss programs designed to help pet owners lose weight alongside their pets.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) has launched campaigns to fight pet obesity within the veterinary medical community, veterinary schools, and state and local veterinary organizations, and has reached out to various media outlets. APOP is made up of dedicated veterinarians and veterinary healthcare personnel committed to making the lives of dogs, cats, all other animals and people healthier and more vital.

APOP is not affiliated with any veterinary industry corporation or business in any manner. This neutrality is critical to our ability to provide unbiased information and advice to veterinary healthcare providers and the pet-loving public.

Click here for APOP Survey 2011 in PDF format

Contact

www.PetObesityPrevention.org for full biography and additional resources and information

Dr. Ernie Ward DrErnieWard@gmail.com 910-579-5550

Dr. Steven Budsberg Budsberg@uga.edu 706-542-6314

Dr. Joe Bartges jbartges@utk.edu 865-974-8387

Dr. Mark Peterson drmarkepeterson@gmail.com 212-362-2650

 

Avoid a Pet Emergency Super Sunday Overtime: Championship Game Parties Can be Dangerous to your Dog and Cat

Dr. Ernie Ward

(February 3, 2012 – Calabash, NC)

Your Super Sunday party may be dangerous to your pet. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) offers tips to pet owners to make sure their Big Game party activities don’t end up with an overtime veterinary emergency.

Super Sunday now trails only Thanksgiving in terms of US food consumption. This enormous engorgement not only threatens many weight loss resolutions, it also may add unhealthy pounds and dangers to our dogs and cats. Sharing a few nibbles of healthy snacks such as celery or carrots is fine, pizza and wings are not.

“When we look at weight gain in humans and pets, big single-day caloric consumption can have life-long consequences.” notes Dr. Ernie Ward, founder and President of APOP. “A pet can be fed a healthy, low-calorie diet and have their efforts erased with a huge feast.”

Ward points out several foods to avoid feeding your pet on Super Sunday. “Don’t feed your pet anything fried or battered, covered in creamy sauces and steer clear of salty snacks.” In fact, Ward recommends limiting any super snacks to “crunchy vegetables such as broccoli, baby carrots, celery and asparagus.” According to Ward, each chicken wing has about 55 calories. A 20-pound dog fed a single chicken wing is similar to an average adult eating almost seven wings. Feed a 40-pound dog one-half slice of pepperoni pizza and that’s the same as an adult consuming two slices of pepperoni pizza and a 12-ounce cola.

It’s not just the calories that worry Ward. “Americans will eat about 1.25 billion chicken wings during the Big Game. That equals 1.25 billion chances for a dog or cat to ingest a bone that can cause serious complications.” APOP warns pet owners not to feed their pets chicken wings due to the risk of intestinal obstruction or worse.

“An often overlooked risk of chicken wings is salt,” states Ward. “One buffalo wing has almost about 160 to 200 mg of sodium. That’s about the amount of sodium recommended for a 20-pound dog in a day. Feeding a dog too much salt can cause high blood pressure and can contribute to kidney and heart disease.” Other foods high in salt that should not be fed to pets include pizza, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, fries, pretzels, potato chips, canned beef stew, potato salad and many sauces.

“Chicken wing bones and salt are not the only potential dangers a pet may face on Championship Sunday.” adds University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine veterinary nutritionist and internal medicine specialist Dr. Joe Bartges. “Foods such as chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, and foods containing Xylitol may be toxic. Eating foods high in fat not only increases calorie intake, but may cause problems such as vomiting and diarrhea or life-threatening pancreatitis.”

Alcohol is another potential danger for pets. Dogs and cats are extremely sensitive to alcoholic beverages and will often drink from half-empty cups and bottles and become ill. As little as a few ounces of beer or wine can prove toxic to a dog or cat. APOP recommends never leaving alcoholic beverages unattended and discard any containers as soon as you’re done.

One final Super Sunday danger Ward warns about – stress. “You may have friends and family over, rooting for your favorite team with lots of loud noises and high-fiving. All of this may prove especially stressful for the four-legged family members that have little interest in the big game. If you notice your dog or cat cowering or pacing, provide a quiet, safe space for them to relax away from the action. Otherwise, you may be awakened early Monday morning by unwelcome stress-related diarrhea.”

 

Contact

Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

www.PetObesityPrevention.org

9256 Beach Drive

Calabash, NC 28467

Dr.  Ernie Ward

DrErnieWard@gmail.com

910-579-5550

910-620-1295

Dr. Joe Bartges

865-974-8387

jbartges@utk.edu

# # #