U.S. Pet Obesity on the Rise for Fifth Straight Year

Pets Join the New Year’s Weight Loss Resolution Revolution

Year after year, one of America’s most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, and statistics show that pet owners should share that goal with their dogs and cats. New data from Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, reveals that pet obesity is on the rise for the fifth straight year. In 2014, Nationwide members filed more than $54 million in pet insurance claims for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity, a 10 percent growth over the last two years.

Similar to their human counterparts, excessive body fat increases the risk of preventable health issues and shortens the life expectancy of dogs and cats. Nationwide recently sorted through its database of more than 550,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions. Below are the results:

Most Common Dog Obesity-Related Conditions Most Common Cat Obesity-Related Conditions
1.   Arthritis 1.    Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
2.   Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease 2.    Chronic Kidney Disease
3.   Low Thyroid Hormone Production 3.    Diabetes
4.   Liver Disease 4.    Liver Disease
5.   Torn Knee Ligaments 5.    Asthma
6.   Diabetes 6.    Arthritis
7.   Diseased Disc in the Spine 7.    High Blood Pressure
8.   Fatty Growth 8.    Heart Failure
9.   Chronic Kidney Disease 9.    Gall Bladder Disorder
10.  Heart Failure 10.   Immobility of Spine

“Excessive weight gain can create detrimental health problems in our pets,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide. “Pet owners need to be aware of the quality and amount of food or treats they give their furry family members. The New Year presents a perfect opportunity to create regular exercise routines for our pets and begin to effectively manage their eating habits to avoid obesity. Regular wellness visits to your veterinarian are the most effective way to monitor your pet’s weight, along with being aware of signs of weight gain.”

In 2014, Nationwide received more than 42,000 pet insurance claims for arthritis in canines, the most common disease aggravated by excessive weight, which carried an average treatment fee of $292 per pet. With more than 4,700 pet insurance claims, bladder or urinary tract disease was the most common obesity related condition in cats, which had an average claim amount of $424 per pet.

Below are simple steps you can take to help regulate your pet’s weight:

  • Avoid feeding your pet table scraps.
  • Keep a consistent diet by monitoring the amount of food you give your pet.
  • Regulate the amount the treats you give your pet.
  • Establish a healthy and fun exercise schedule.

*Consult your veterinarian to best determine your pet’s weight loss protocol.


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