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Obesity in pets is a more serious issue than we realize. In fact, more than 50% of dogs and cats in the United States are obese or overweight.
In 2018, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention conducted a survey for pet owners and veterinarians that found 55.8% of dogs and 59.5% of cats are overweight or obese. And, 80% of veterinarians and 68% of pet owners said they had tried to help their pet lose weight. Pet owners felt the following actions were effective in reducing obesity.
・Calorie reduction/smaller portions
・Very effective: 38%
・Somewhat effective: 33%
・Very effective: 36%
・Somewhat effective: 30%
・Low-calorie or low-fat diets
・Very effective: 9%
・Somewhat effective: 23%
・Prescription weight loss diets
・Very effective: 13%
・Somewhat effective: 14%
※Source: 2018 Pet Obesity Survey Results (U.S. Pet Obesity Rates Plateau and Nutritional Confusion Grows)
I have also worked to reduce obesity and weight for Den, my dog, and I personally think that controlling the amount of food was the most effective. Of course, burning calories by increasing exercise is essential, but there are days when I just can’t take a long walk due to rainy weather or work commitments.
There are some tricky points in our experience in solving the obesity problem in pets.
①Not being aware of the obesity condition
Pet owners are completely unaware that their pets are obese because they spend time with them daily. Pet owners may be aware that their pets are a little chubby but unaware that their pets are obese or overweight. Especially with large dogs, it is more difficult to notice because there are fewer opportunities to weigh.
②Even if they are aware of their pet’s obesity, they do not understand the need to eliminate it.
Even if pet owners (and veterinarians) notice that their pets are obese, they do not understand the necessity of eliminating obesity. I believe there is the same situation in the human world. I believe that many people do not (or cannot) change their daily behavior even though they notice they are obese.
The percentage of Japanese people with metabolic syndrome is very high, so I think the difficulty of solving this problem is severe. 28.2% of men and 10.3% of women aged 20 years or older are strongly suspected of having metabolic syndrome. In the 40-74 age group, about 55% of men (29.8% of those strongly suspected + 24.7% of those in the potential group) and 17% of women (9.5% of those strongly suspected + 7.2% of those in the potential group) have metabolic syndrome.
I think there are problems that most people don’t feel the necessity of eliminating their pet’s obesity (or, more accurately, they feel the necessity to eliminate obesity but cannot taken action).
The book namede [Obesity in the Dog and Cat] states that 3% of pet obesity is caused by pet-specific factors and 97% by human factors.
This means that in order to solve the pet obesity problem, we, pet owners, must make significant changes in our awareness and behavior.
※Source: Obesity in the Dog and Cat
Let me explain why pet obesity is a problem. In conclusion, **Obesity has a direct impact on life expectancy. **An article from the American Veterinary Medical Association states that obese canines have a 2.5 year shorter life span than healthy weight dogs. It does not mean that all obese dogs live shorter lives, as there are individual differences. On the other hand, even healthy dogs can have a short life span due to unexpected accidents. However, 2.5 years in a dog’s life span is very impactful. A dog’s average life span today is around 14-15 years, depending on the breed. If your lovely dog could die at less than 13 years old because of obesity, you will regret it. I don’t say that longevity is everything, but I don’t think it would be happy for the dog to have even a shorter life.
※Source: Study finds overweight dogs live shorter lives(American Veterinary Medical Association)
On the other hand, eliminating obesity is simple but not easy. It is not a happy lifestyle if pet owners are also forced to spend time and money to eliminate thier pet’s obesity and live a stressful life. I believe that we should take actions that we can continuously work on without overworking ourselves.
As part of preventive medicine, we are also committed to pet obesity prevention. As mentioned in the article on Assotiation for Pet Obesity Prevention, not all veterinarians have knowledge about pet obesity. We would like to increase the number of veterinarians who can learn about and commit to nutrition and preventive medicine. We will contribute to solving the pet obesity problem, which is becoming a significant issue worldwide.
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