Infographic: Top 10 obesity diseases in dogs, cats 2017

Ten obesity-related diseases were the most frequently reported in dog and cat insurance claims to Nationwide in 2017.

created using Piktochart
created using Piktochart

In 2017, rates of pet obesity and related diseases rose in the United States, according to data collected by insurance company Nationwide, just as those rates have done for the past eight years that Nationwide has been collecting this information. See the infographic below to learn which ten obesity-related diseases were the most frequently reported in dog and cat insurance claims to Nationwide in 2017, the most recent year for which data was available.

Awareness of pet obesity among veterinarians

The rise in pet obesity-related disease diagnosis may reflect both growing awareness among veterinarians of obesity and rising rates of obesity overall, Ernie Ward, DVM, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention, told Petfood Industry.

“I don’t recall this high number of obese pets 30 years ago,” he said. “But also we were oblivious to what was going on in pet obesity. Very little was taught in veterinary school. There was little literature…So, the numbers were down but ignorance was up.”

Now, the prevalence of pet obesity clearly is up, he said, but likewise awareness has grown.

“Golden age” of pet obesity awareness and treatment

Ward compared the current state of pet obesity awareness to that of cancer several decades ago.

“Growing up on farm, we didn’t talk about cancer in animals,” he said.

As Ward grew up and fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a vet, awareness of cancer in animals, including pets and livestock, also grew. Veterinarians now have various options for addressing cancer, as well as limiting risk factors, in dogs, cats and other animals.

On the other hand, obesity is the most common ailment Ward sees in his veterinary practice, yet he has only one treatment.

“All we can say is feed less and exercise more,” he said. ‘That doesn’t work for humans, much less pets.”

Just as human obesity awareness and treatment options have increased, Ward foresees increased options for addressing the obesity epidemic in U.S. pets.

“We’re entering a golden age for pet obesity,” he said.


Top 10 Obesity Diseases In Dogs, Cats 2017

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