Pet Health a Growing Trend

Featured Article — By on February 25, 2012 at 7:05 am

Americans have been fighting fiercely against the obesity epidemic, and now their pets have joined the battle as well.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, a nationwide study found that in the United States, an estimated 7.2 million dogs are obese and 26 million are overweight. The number is even higher for cats, with 15.7 million being obese and 35 million overweight.

“Veterinary industry estimates calculate that pet obesity costs pet owners almost $20 million per year,” said Dr. Ernie Ward, president of APOP, in an online discussion on weight control for pets.

Excess weight, even as little as two pounds in a cat or small dog, increases that pet’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, cancer, pancreatitis, lower urinary tract problems, musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory issues and delayed wound healing, according to Ward.

“Some pet parents might not see a problem with their pet’s extra pound or two, but in a down economy like this, pet owners will likely take issue with paying higher veterinary bills and that’s what having an overweight pet often leads to,” said Heidi Bassler, medical director of Veterinary Center of Greater Newburyport.

Veterinary Pet Insurance, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of health insurance, said it has reimbursed more than $14 million for last year’s claims that were linked to pet obesity.

VIP also reported that “in 2006, the average claimed cost of treatment for medical conditions [caused by extra weight] was $832, up from $713 in 2005 and $702 in 2004.”

With expenses continuing to rise because of pet obesity, veterinarians highly urge pet owners to make healthy eating and physical activity a part of their pet’s normal routine.

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