National Pet Obesity Awareness Day calling for veterinary participants

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) is calling upon veterinarians to participate in its seventh annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day.

On Oct. 9, the organization wants veterinary hospitals to record basic information about animals of all breeds, sizes, and types that come through the doors for routine procedures.

As in previous years, APOP will use the data to improve its knowledge about the prevalence of overweight and obese pets in the United States, which it will then disseminate to the veterinary community.

Looking for an improvement over 2012 statistics

The 2013 study will shed light on whether the discouraging findings from the 2012 study have improved or worsened.

The 2012 study revealed that the number of overweight and obese pets is reaching epidemic proportions. APOP discovered that 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats examined in participating hospitals were overweight or obese. Those percentages project out to an estimated 80 million overweight or obese dogs and cats in the United States, APOP said.

Another discouraging finding from the 2012 study was that many pet owners don't even realize their pets are overweight. When asked to assess their pets' weight, about 45 percent of pet owners believed their pets fell within a normal weight range, which contradicted their veterinarians who classified the animals as overweight. 

How to contribute to the study

Veterinary hospitals are encouraged to sign up on the APOP website by Oct. 1. The association will send free handouts, instructions, and measuring tapes to all enrolled participants by Oct. 9.

According to APOP, collecting the necessary information typically only adds one or two minutes to each appointment. Veterinarians will collect basic information including each pet's weight, age, body condition score, and how clients assess their pets' weight. 

If veterinarians are unable to collect patient information on Oct. 9, APOP said they can do it any day during the week of Oct. 7-14.