Health and Fitness

U.S. Pet Obesity: The Total Number of Pounds our Dogs are Overweight

FatDog-L

According to the 2014 Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) survey, the number of obese dogs has risen the past two years and the total number of overweight or obese dogs in the US is almost 44 million. I thought it would be interesting to use the APOP survey results and estimate how many pounds of pet fat that would translate to, and then determine how many days of walking would be required to burn those extra pounds away. You are not going to believe what these computations reveal.

Fat Dogs – How Much are we Really Overfeeding?

Given that there are almost 44 million overweight dogs in the US, there are lots of extra pounds for those pooches to lose. In order to estimate how many pounds, I needed to start with some key assumptions. These are displayed in the table below (along with the other key calculations).

I started the analysis by assuming that the average weight for all of the dogs in the US was 25 lbs. Next, I broke out the obese dogs from the overweight dogs (according to the APOP survey) and made assumptions for, on average, how overweight a dog in each of these two groups would be. For the overweight category, I assumed 15% overweight and for the obese category, I assumed 35% overweight. As a reality check, this means that the average overweight dog is 4 lbs. overweight (15% of 25 lbs.) and the average obese dog is 9 lbs. overweight (35% of 25 lbs.). Seems reasonable if not on the low side.

With this information, I can now calculate the aggregate amount of weight that dogs in the US are carrying due to them being overweight. These numbers, shown in the in the table below, are in millions of pounds. The bottomline? Dogs in the US are 238 million pounds overweight.

Overweight Dogs: How much overweight are the dogs in the US?

Values in % or millions

Weight Classification

No. of Dogs

Avg. % Overweight

Total Lbs. Overweight

Total Kcals to Lose this Weight

Days Walking a 25 lb. Dog to Burn kcals

Overweight

29.2

15%

110

383,753

381

Obese

14.7

35%

128

448,987

445

Total

43.9

22%

238

832,740

826

Addendum:

Total Cups of dog food over fed

2,776

Total lbs. overfed

694

Key Assumptions

Average Dog Size (lbs.)

25

Kcals burned for 1 hour of brisk walking

42

Avg. kcals per cup dog food

300

Avg. cups per lb. of dog food

4

How Many Calories are needed for Fat Dogs to Lose the Extra Weight?

Now that we know how much flab must be lost, we can determine the calorie deficit needed to get our fat pets back to a healthy weight. In order to lose 238 million pounds, a total calorie deficit of almost 833 million kcals is needed. Wow. That’s a lot of smaller portions and a lot of exercise.

Another way to look at this is to estimate how many days of walking would be needed to burn off those 833 million calories. To do this, I determined that 25 lb. dog would burn about 42 kcals on an hour walk (at around 3 mph). Dividing the 833 million by 42 and then again by 24 (for 24 hours in a day), means that in order for the 44 million overweight or obese dogs in the US to lose their extra weight, they would have to walk in aggregate, for a total of 826 million days!

Regarding portions, making some assumptions about the average calories in dog food, I estimate that the US is overfeeding their dogs by 694 million pounds of dog food each year. Oh my goodness.

The purpose of these calculations is to put the pet obesity problem into perspective and to demonstrate the severity of the pet obesity problem that is harming our pets and costing pet owners billions of dollars in unneeded food and medical costs. Of all of the above figures, the one that stands out to me is the 694 million pounds of dog food that is being overfed. Having spent some time as a rescue volunteer, and seeing all of those poor dogs who are emaciated from neglect, I can’t help but think that those 694 million pounds of over poured food would be better utilized in the form of donations to local shelters and rescues- where the animals really need those calories to survive.

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