On Oct. 9, 2013, National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) asks that veterinary practices participate in their seventh annual study by evaluating all dog and cat patients they see that day and recording basic body conditioning scores.

To participate, veterinarians are asked to visit to sign up and download a form to record their assessments. Once completed, the forms can simply be faxed or scanned and emailed back to APOP.

"Our historical research shows a clear epidemic of pet obesity in our country," said Dr. Ernie Ward, founder and president of APOP. "The annual veterinarian-conducted study is vital to measuring the longitudinal trend so our industry is informed. Armed with this knowledge, APOP, the veterinary community, and the entire pet industry can set forth common strategies to fight and prevent overweight pets, because we all want to give them longer, healthier, and happier lives."

The 2012 study found that 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats were overweight, as determined by the veterinary assessments, together equaling nearly 80 million pets. But, alarmingly, the study found that among those pets assessed as obese by veterinarians, nearly half of their owners assessed their pets' weight as being normal. These findings point to what is considered by APOP as the "fat pet gap."

"A host of preventable diseases are directly linked to obesity in pets. The APOP calls upon our fellow veterinarians to become an active voice in quantifying and fighting pet obesity in our country," Dr. Ward said.

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