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National Pet Obesity Awareness Day


Battling the bulge continues to be a booming problem in the U.S. But people will also be surprised that it’s not only humans that are dealing with weight issues, but pets as well. October 14, known as National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, aims to help people understand that pet obesity is a growing problem that impacts the health and longevity of pets. Alarm is developing in the veterinary field as more and more pets in their care are being classified as clinically obese.

Founded in 2006 by veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) consists of dedicated veterinarians who are committed to making the lives of pets healthier by educating pet owners on the dangers of pet obesity. According to the APOP, 58% of cats and 53% of dogs living in the U.S., were overweight in 2014. Last year, the percentage of cats who were overweight stayed the same, while the percentage of dogs who were overweight increased to 54%.

Back in 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared obesity as a disease. Yet, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) still has not followed suite. Another part of the problem, according to the APOP, is that there is no agreement among the veterinary field on what exactly the definition of obesity in pets is. While the APOP has stated that the clinical obesity is 30 percent above a pets ideal weight, that rate varies among other veterinary specialists and pet parents. This disagreement on weight issues in pets has led to a lot of confusion with everyone, and can also lead to incorrect reporting. With a structure approved by everyone involved, confusion would not longer be an issues, and the veterinary field could finally has a effective way to communicate their concerns to pet parents whose pets are in need of some weight loss.

There are many tools available to pet owners who want to help their pets lose a few pounds or to keep their weight at a steady level. However, the most important resource for pet parents is their trusted veterinarian, who can assist pet parents and give the best advice on how to help a pet lose weight safely. It is important for pet parents to know that not all pet food is the same, so research will need to be done to find the food best suited for a pet. After finding the proper food, keeping a consistent amount of food each day will ensure that the pet doesn't get overfed. Treats will also need to be limited, but pet parents can look for healthy treat alternatives such as carrots, apples and broccoli. And don't forget exercise, for older pets a short walk around the block will do but if a pet is younger, a swim, running around the park, or a game of laser tag will let them get out some energy.    

With dedication and the help of a trusted vet, a pet will soon be on their way to a healthier, longer life. To learn more about the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention or the 2015 study, go to their website at www.petobesityprevention.org.