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Percentage of Overweight Pets Steady, but Obesity Expands

Feb. 7, 2012, 7:00 EST


Percentage of Overweight Pets Steady, but Obesity Expands
The percentage of pet cats and dogs classified as overweight remained relatively constant over the past year, but the rate of obesity increased, especially in cats, according to the fifth annual veterinary survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

The survey, conducted in October 2011, asked 41 U.S. veterinary clinics to classify adult dogs and cats on a scale from 1 to 5, with 3 being normal weight, 4 overweight and 5 obese. Among the 459 dogs and 177 cats evaluated, 21.3 percent of dogs were classified as obese compared with 20.6 percent in 2010, while 24.8 percent of cats were classified as obese compared to 21.6 percent in 2010. The percentage of dogs classified as overweight or obese declined from 55.6 percent in 2010 to 52.5 percent in 2011, and the percentage of cats classified as obese rose from 53.7 percent in 2010 to 54.7 percent in 2011.

Among owners of obese or overweight pets, 22 percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners erroneously characterized their pet as normal. Among cat owners, 49 percent of cat owners reported their veterinarian had discussed obesity and excess weight with them, and 46 percent reported their veterinarian had reviewed nutrition or food choices. Meanwhile, 72 percent of dog owners reported their veterinarian had discussed obesity and excess weight with them, and 86 percent reported their veterinarian had reviewed nutrition or food choices.

An online poll found that 93 percent of all dog and cat owners gave treats, including 26 percent who gave treats three or more times per day. The most common place for pet owners to purchase pet food was at pet stores, with 61.1 percent of owners reporting this option, while 22.2 percent purchased pet food from grocery stores and 16.8 percent purchased from veterinary clinics. Seventy-six percent of pet owners reported they learned about pet nutrition from their veterinarian, 71.5 percent from the internet, 22 percent from a pet store, 5.5 percent from a breeder and 2.0 percent from a groomer, with respondents allowed to choose multiple answers. When choosing what type of pet food to feed their pets, 69.4 percent of owners trusted their veterinarians, 36.3 percent turned a website, 20.6 percent decided at the pet store, 4.4 percent utilized a breeder and 1.3 percent trusted their groomer.

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