Obesity refers to a condition wherein an excess of body fat develops to an extent that can be detrimental to an individual’s health. Obesity contributes to serious health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease etc. Obesity poses a major health concern globally, whereby studies indicate that around 59% of dogs and cats are overweight.
Therefore, this makes obesity one of the most prevalent medical conditions prevalent in veterinary practice . Recent findings suggest that obesity is increasing at a significant rate and has now become a global issue, thereby affecting developing countries as well.
The growing existence of growing animals is of particular concern, whereby around 21% of dogs are overweight by 6 months of age. Moreover, obesity leads to metabolic disorders, serious functional damage such as deterioration of respiratory function, cardiovascular function, and renal function. Additionally, Obesity poses a severe financial burden on pet owners as they expend large sums of money on regular checkups with vet, medications, insurance etc.
For instance, dogs that are overweight face numerous health problems that consequently decrease their life span. Moreover, there is a higher chance of them being adversely affected by other health issues such as osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus and some forms of neoplasia . The ‘World Small Animal Veterinary Association’ declared canine obesity as a medical condition.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) finds that
- Rate of pet obesity stood at approximately 59.5% for cats and 55.8% for dogs
- Both pet owners and professional Vets struggles with agreeing on pet nutritional advice due to the large volume of conflicting advice available. Therefore, pet owners and vets find it extremely difficult to aid pets with achieving safe and optimal weights.
- Additionally, the survey found that around 80% of professional vets and around 68% of pet owners had taken steps to facilitate their pets with weight loss, whereby the most popular method supported by 68% of the respondents was dieting by decreasing calories or portion sizes.
Nationwide (Pet Health Insurance Company)
- Pet obesity has been increasingly rising for the eight consecutive year .
- Around 20% of Nationwide members’ pet insurance claims in 2017 were for health issues and diseases associated with pet obesity, thereby adding up to approximately $69 million in veterinary expenses.
- Nationwide received around 57000 pet insurance claims for arthritis found in dogs in 2017, whereby it represents one of the most common disease exacerbated by excessive weight .
- Furthermore, Nationwide received around 5800 pet insurance claims for bladder or urinary tract disease found in cats, whereby it is the most common obesity linked condition in cats.
PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report 2018,
- Around 50% of vets predicted that pet obesity would have extremely serious health and welfare implications in a decade’s time.
British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA)
- Finds that vet professional believe that around 34% of the cats that they attend to on a weekly base are either slightly overweight or obese.
Prevention of Pet Obesity
Over the past decade, researches and doctors are increasingly advocating for the adoption of the One Health (OH) approach in health systems and research, by making sure that transdisciplinary policies are implemented to realize enhanced stakeholder engagement, sustainable ways to prevent disease and develop mitigation solutions.
One Health (OH) is a collective, transdisciplinary approach varying across different sectors and working at domestic, national and global levels. It aims to attain optimum health results by recognizing the link between people, animals, plants and their common environment. OH has a range of benefits such as enhancement of animal and human health and well-being.
Preventing obesity can only be achieved through a prevention plan, whereby the body weight and body conditions of pets is monitored throughout their life span. Furthermore, the prevention plans are supported by the widespread availability of fact-based growth charts such as those created for dogs weighing up to 40 kg that are freely available online for the benefit of veterinary professionals. Studies have shown that managing and controlling diet can considerably increase the life span of dogs.
However, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s (APOP) 10th survey on pet obesity indicates that pet obesity in America is continuously increasing despite a move towards a more natural and “grain-free” diet.
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