To help call attention to the growing pet-obesity epidemic, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) is holding its third annual study on Oct. 14, National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. On this day, hundreds of veterinary practices that have registered to participate in the study will gather data on pet weight. If you’d like to help provide information, APOP will continue to register practices and accept data through Oct. 23.
“This is different from the past two years,” says Gina Toman, RVT, Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and the study’s lead researcher. “Before, we asked clinics to take a snapshot of one day’s patients. But as we’re asking clinics to record data on at least 60 pets this year, we’ve extended the deadline.”
Another change to this year’s study is the addition of a more detailed client questionnaire. The questionnaire will inquire about pet activity levels, diet, use of treats, and attitudes toward weight and illness for both normal and overweight and obese pets. “This will also help give us samples of what pet owners should and shouldn’t be doing,” Toman says.
This is important information, considering that APOP estimates that 44 percent of dogs are overweight or obese and 57 percent of cats are too heavy. “This is the first generation of pets that will not live as long as their parents,” says Dr. Ernie Ward, founder and president of APOP. “Even worse, the majority of today’s overweight pets will endure painful and expensive medical conditions—all of which can be avoided.”
To sign up your veterinary hospital for the study and to download study materials, visit the APOP Web site at www.petobesityprevention.com. The hospital collecting the most data will receive $200, and each clinic collecting data on at least 25 pets will be entered into a drawing for $150.