New Pet Obesity Statistics for U.S. Dogs and Cats

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has released the results of its 2018 Pet Obesity Survey.  You can click HERE to read the full report.  Here are a few interesting findings about our pets:

  • 59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs are classified as either overweight or obese.  This translates to 56 million cats and 50 million dogs.
  • 25.7% of cats and 36.9% of dogs were rated as overweight.
  • 33.8% of cats and 18.9% of dogs were rated as obese.

  • 68% of pet owners report that they have tried to help their pets lose weight.
  • Calorie reduction/smaller portions and increased exercise were reported to be the most effective pet weight loss methods.
  • 53% of pet owners reported that their veterinarians discussed their pets’ weight with them, however 40% said that their vets did not provide them with dietary advice.

Could your dog or cat lose a few of those extra pounds?  APOP has created some helpful pet weight loss tools for owners.  You can find information on ideal weight ranges, pet caloric needs, and weight reduction advice for both dogs and cats.

 

 

The Most Common Food Allergen Sources for Dogs and Cats

Many pet owners struggle with adverse food reactions in their dogs and cats.  It can be difficult to determine what exactly is causing the reaction, and if the reaction is a sign of a food sensitivity or a true food allergy.

The term cutaneous adverse food reaction (CAFR) is used by vets to describe food sensitivities, food intolerances, and food allergies that affect the skin.  The digestive system may or may not be involved in pets with CAFRs.

Veterinary researchers reviewed dozens of scientific studies and published an article listing the most common food offenders for dogs and cats that experience CAFRs.

The most common allergens for dogs are beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat, and lamb.  Less common sources include soy, corn, egg, pork, fish, and rice.

Cats also experience adverse food reactions.  The most common sources for cats are beef, fish, chicken, wheat, corn, dairy products, and lamb.

Talk to your vet if you suspect your pet has a food allergy or intolerance.  Many vets will advise you to try an elimination diet that removes a suspected food source like beef or chicken.  Always make pet dietary changes with guidance and supervision from your vet.

True food allergies tend to be less common than food sensitivities.  If your pet’s skin is affected (as in a CAFR) and not just the digestive system, there’s a better chance that it’s an allergy and not simply a digestion issue.

 

Dogs and Humans Share Similar Gut Microbiomes

The human microbiome (the many microorganisms that live in and on our body) is a popular topic in science news these days.  Researchers are especially interested in how the microbes that live in our intestines impact our health and well-being.

Our pets have microbiomes too, and a recent study of the canine gut microbiome has found that humans and dogs share many similarities.  Dogs are more like humans in the gut microbiome than either pigs or mice.

Why are we so similar?  The study authors suspect that it has a lot to do with similarities in our diets.

The researchers randomly assigned two different diets to a group of dogs.  One was high protein/low carbohydrate and the other was a lower protein/higher carb diet.

The genes of the dogs’ gut microbes were sequenced using poop samples.  They were then compared to the genes of the gut microbes of humans and other animals.

The researchers found that we share more similarities with dogs than with pigs or mice.  They also found that dogs on the high protein/low carb diet experienced more changes in the gut microbiome than dogs on the higher carb diet.  This was especially true for overweight dogs.

Humans show similar gut microbiome changes when our diets are altered as well.  The researchers note that both dogs and humans with healthy body weights have more stable gut microbiomes, while obesity can lead to less stable gut microbiomes and an increased sensitivity to dietary changes.

 

 

Pet Ownership Trends for 2019

What will the hottest pet trends be in 2019?  The Michelson Found Animals Foundation surveyed 1,000 dog and cat owners and compiled a list of pet trends to watch in the coming year.  Here are the highlights:

Pet-related technology will play a greater role in the daily lives of our pets.  What are the most popular pet tech items?

  • Pet health and nutrition apps
  • Pet servicing apps (pet sitting, dog walking, etc.)
  • Pet monitoring cameras
  • Smart pet toys

Alternative therapies for pets are on the rise.  What types of treatments are our pets receiving?

  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • CBD oil (aka cannabidiol oil, a non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant)

Pet food trends will continue to mirror human food trends.  Here’s what we’re feeding our pets:

  • Special diets for health and fitness
  • Organic pet food
  • Protein-rich diets
  • Pet food subscription services

 

 

FDA Issues Warning on Vitamin D Toxicity in Several Brands of Pet Food

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning for pet owners about high levels of vitamin D in several brands of dry dog food.

Currently, the affected dog foods are sold under the labels Nature’s Promise, Nature’s Place, Abound, ELM, ANF, Evolve, Sportsman’s Pride, Triumph, Orlando, Natural Life, and Nutrisca.

While already a long list, the FDA notes that the situation is still developing, and more brands may be added in the coming days.  Right now, the list does not include cat food or wet dog food.

Although vitamin D is an essential nutrient, too much vitamin D can cause vitamin D toxicity in dogs.  The symptoms pet owners should know about include:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weight loss

Serious cases can lead to kidney failure and death.

Stop feeding your dog any food on the list and see your veterinarian if you suspect vitamin D toxicity.  Show your vet the food packaging.  The FDA notes that some of the symptoms can mimic those that follow the ingestion of rodenticides.

Pet owners and veterinarians are encouraged to report cases of vitamin D toxicity to the FDA via their safety reporting portal.