Seeing the Vet

700,000 Insured Pets, $69 Million for Obesity

If you want to understand that obesity is not just an issue for humans, take a peek at health insurance claims for our cats and dogs. Nationwide Insurance released data this week. Puff and Rover are definitely joining us on a global journey of pandemic obesity. For the eighth year in a row, Nationwide sees rising obesity in the veterinary bills for the 700,000 dogs and cats it insures.

In fact, obesity now accounts for 20 percent of all claims. The company has seen these claims rise by 24 percent over the last eight years.

Different Problems in Cats and Dogs

Obesity presents different problems for Puff than it does for Rover. Bladder and UTI problems sit on top of the list of obesity complications for cats. Arthritis is the number one problem linked to obesity in dogs, but it’s way down the list at number six for cats.

Tip of the Iceberg

If anything, the data from Nationwide very likely underestimates the impact of obesity on our animal companions. The company pays out $69 million for obesity-related veterinary care. These claims come from only 700,000 insured pets. But Americans have roughly 180 million cats and dogs. Fewer than two percent of them are insured.

On top of that, owners live with a bit of denial about how obesity affects their furry friends. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says that 60 percent of cats and 56 percent of dogs are living with obesity. Nearly half of pet owners don’t know what a healthy weight looks like. And more than 80 percent of owners whose pets have obesity think their weight is just fine.

Obesity is a needless source of suffering for our animal friends. And it’s growing in parallel with the obesity pandemic. Just as with humans, our environment is driving the epidemic in pets.

One difference. Humans have the capacity to sort this problem and solve it – if we will.

Click here for more data from Nationwide and here for a wealth of information from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

Seeing the Vet, photograph © NAIT / flickr

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January 5, 2019

2 Responses to “700,000 Insured Pets, $69 Million for Obesity”

  1. January 10, 2019 at 6:09 pm, Jennie Brand-Miller said:

    Hi Ted,
    Can we conclude from the data on obesity in our pets that SSB (or sugar, fat, McDonalds, direct food advertising, etc) have nothing to do with obesity causation? Cheers Jennie

  2. January 10, 2019 at 6:20 pm, Ted said:

    Jennie, that’s a good question. Speaking only for little old me, I’d say it tells us that those usual suspects are – at most – only a part of a much bigger picture. To answer these questions, we are relying on speculation. Personally, I like the speculation laid out here. But you may know better sources.