For many humans, the start of a new year means it’s time to hit the gym and squeeze back into those skinny jeans — and according to Petplan claims data, the same should go for furry friends. That’s because Petplan’s most frequently claimed conditions have one thing in common: obesity.
The issue of overweight dogs is on the rise, and there are many factors contributing to this alarming trend. Poor food choices and a sedentary lifestyle are the two main components. An overweight dog is more susceptible to diabetes, liver problems, joint issues, and an overall lower quality of life.
Unlike with humans, dogs are incapable of preparing their own food and controlling their physical exercise. So the responsibility of creating a healthy weight for our four-legged friend is on us.
“It’s no surprise that the biggest health threat to pets in 2017 is obesity,” says 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.”
A good rule of thumb is 30 minutes of play will keep the pounds away. This year, Petplan challenges pet parents to get out and get active with furry friends to avoid the extra “fluff” that can exacerbate many of Petplan’s most commonly claimed conditions, including:
- Tummy troubles: Let’s face it — pudgy pets eat more than they should. And overeating can easily lead to vomiting and diarrhea, Petplan’s #1 claimed conditions year after year — in fact, Petplan sees an average of 900 claims every month just for tummy troubles! And 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 the pudge 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? $590!
- 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 Hound) are particularly prone to intervertebral disc disease, and added weight can increase their chances of developing the disease — and a $2,014 vet bill.
The good news is, unlike many of these conditions, pet obesity is 100% preventable and curable. “In addition to daily exercise, swap fatty treats for lower-calorie options, or better yet opt for praise and playtime instead of snacks,” says 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.”
For info on Petplan and for more pet health tips, sniff out www.petplan.com.