While there’s no way to put a price tag on the emotional costs of dog obesity, understanding the financial impact on our bank accounts is easier.
By Thomas Hill
According to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the majority of dogs are due to lose a little or a lot of weight. 52.5 percent or 80 million dogs qualify as overweight or obese. But beyond the obvious health concerns and discomfort pet obesity can cause, being overweight, can also put dogs at a higher risks for diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.
While the reasons for keep your dog fit and trim, clearly outweigh the effects it has on your pocket book, it’s amazing to see just how the numbers add up.
So How much does this problem really cost dog owners?
Steve Pelletier, founder and CEO of SlimDoggy, Inc., highlights the life-span and financial costs of overweight and obese dogs:
Living dogs throughout America would live 87 million more years if dog weight problems were solved.
Yearly medical expenses approach $5 billion, with $30 billion for the average life-span of all obese pets.
Medical expenses come in the form of more medication required based on body weight and medical treatment required due to extra stress from excess weight on a dog’s body.
“There are short-term and ongoing increased expenses that account for higher dosages of medications that are prescribed based on body weight. This could include monthly heartworm and flea/tick medications, as well as most other drugs, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, pain medications and more,” explains David W. Linzey, DVM owner of Animal Emergency & Pet Care Clinic of the High Country in Boone, N.C. “The longer-term costs are mostly due to the treatment of orthopedic medical conditions that result from carrying extra body weight (hip dysplasia, ligament and tendon injuries, spinal disk herniation’s, etc.) and having an increased proportion of body fat (heart disease, hypertension, pancreatitis, hypothyroidism, diabetes, cancer, etc.).”
Since over-weight and obese dogs are more likely to suffer more serious medical conditions, increased medical costs are expected. Seeing just how expensive medical treatment is, along with increased pet claim statistics, as Petplan reports via the New York Times, treating obese dogs is financially draining for all dog owners.
Treating a diabetic dog, as of 2011, cost well above $900, while treating dogs with arthritis and stressed ligaments, due to excess weight, can set back owners $2,000. Pets owners can incur bills between $2,000 – $3,000 for hip issues, explains Dr. Jerry Shank, DVM, founder at Shank Animal Hospital, partly “because of poor health that accompanies the weight.”
For insurance claims, which ultimately affect all insurance policy holders, the effects are equally as costly. Diabetic companion animals insurance claims saw a 253 increase in 2011. Heart disease and arthritis claims increasing by 32 percent and 348 percent respectively.
The good news is these costs and more importantly, the health risks can be easily reduced through simple steps.
The first step is to recognize your dog may be overweight or obese. Once you have taken him to a vet to be evaluated you can set up a plan for food and exercise that can reduce the chances of future health problems.