A national pet insurance provider highlights not just how the pet obesity epidemic compromises health but also how much inactivity can hurt pets’ quality of life and your wallet. With the new year upon us, now is the time to resolve to exercise your pet more regularly.
By Ellyce Rothrock
There’s a problem ballooning among the nation’s pets. According to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 58 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese, According to Newtown Square, Pa.-based Petplan pet insurance provider, its most frequently claimed conditions have one thing in common—you guessed it: obesity.
“It’s no surprise that the biggest health threat to pets in 2017 is obesity,” said Dr. Ernie Ward, Petplan veterinary advisory board member and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. “When you consider that over half of the nation’s dogs and cats are now overweight or obese, it literally is a growing problem.”
With the new year here, make it a resolution to get out and get active with your furry friends to avoid the extra “fluff” that can exacerbate many common obesity-related conditions, including:
– Tummy troubles: Overeating can easily lead to vomiting and diarrhea, Petplan’s No. 1 claimed conditions year after year; in fact, Petplan sees an average of 900 claims every month just for stomach issues. The cost for relief averages at $850.
– The Big C: There have been some indications that certain types of cancer are more common in overweight or obese pets, and that can put a bump in pet parents’ budgets—the average vet bill for cancer is $2,033.
– A gimpy gait: Lameness, or general limping, is often caused by arthritis—and extra pounds mean extra stress on pets’ joints (and wallets—the average cost to treat lameness is $966).
– Not-so bee’s knees: Pets who pack on pounds are also at a greater risk for cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) injuries from added joint stress and weak muscles. CCL injuries are the priciest of Petplan’s common conditions, costing an average of $3,480 to repair.
– On the go: Several things can cause a urinary tract infection in pets, but obese animals may be more at risk because they can’t clean those hard-to-reach places. The average cost to treat UTIs is almost $600!
– Matters of the heart: Obesity usually comes with high blood pressure, poor organ function and low levels of activity—all things that contribute to cardiac disease and an average $1,232.
– Back attack: The long and lows (think dachshund and basset Hhound) are particularly prone to intervertebral disc disease, and added weight can increase their chances of developing the disease—and a $2,014 vet bill.
Unlike many of these conditions, pet obesity is 100 percent preventable and curable, according to Petplan.
“In addition to daily exercise, swap fatty treats for lower-calorie options, or better yet opt for praise and playtime instead of snacks,” said Dr. Ward. “And know your pet’s calorie count—ask your vet how many calories your pet needs each day, and stick to that number.”