New year is time to unleash healthy pet habits
Pet owners urged to tackle the obesity epidemic amongst Aussie pets
Most overweight breeds revealed in PetSure claims data
January 2020: Claims for obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, glucose intolerance, tracheal collapse and heat intolerance have soared by 100% over the last five years according to PetSure, Australia’s largest pet insurance underwriter. As the New Year begins, PetSure is urging pet owners to tackle the obesity epidemic facing almost half of Australian pets. 
PetSure’s claims data, coupled with expert vet insights, suggests that obesity is also a contributing factor to a range of other associated claims conditions, making it the number one health issue for Australian dogs and cats. Some of these additional conditions impacted by obesity are osteoarthritis & other joint disorders, Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), cruciate disease, cardiac and respiratory disorders and certain cancers.
Commenting on this growing issue, Senior PetSure Veterinarian Dr Oliver Conradi said “Along with all these related conditions such as diabetes and associated conditions like joint disorders, there is a body of evidence to suggest that fit and lean dogs have a significant increase in their median lifespan and a significant delay in the onset of chronic disease.
“One of the reasons claims are increasing is the humanisation of pets. This means pet owners are increasingly treating their fur babies like little humans, which reflects the wonderful bond they have, but this treatment can extend to their pet’s diet and the quantity of food they eat. To manage obesity in dogs and cats, owners must avoid giving pets treats, particularly human food such as biscuits, chips or cheese. Even a small amount adds a lot of calories to their pet’s daily intake.”
Diabetes in dogs is most similar to the Type 1 Diabetes seen in children, where there is a lack of insulin produced in the body. In the absence of insulin, the body’s fat and protein are broken down instead, resulting in muscle wasting and weight loss, despite the animal being ravenously hungry. Diabetes is far more common in pets who are obese or have a poor diet.
PetSure’s data revealed that cats have a slightly higher incidence of diabetes than dogs, which is a significant indicator of obesity. This may reflect the more sedentary lifestyle of indoor dwelling feline friends. While dogs usually have Type 1 diabetes, cats usually develop Type 2 diabetes. While all breeds can be susceptible to weight gain, the PetSure data shows the two cat breeds most at risk are the Australian Mist and Abyssinian.
The PetSure data revealed the dog breeds most affected by obesity are, in order, Australian Terriers, the Siberian Husky, Bichon Frise, Schnoodles, Maltese and Rottweilers.
As with humans, exercise and diet are key to preventing and managing weight gain, Dr Conradi commented: “Following the feeding guide on the packaging of pet food is an easy reference but for those pets already overweight, owners should speak to their vet about changing to a low calorie or weight loss diet. Vets will give owners advice such as avoiding bones and other fatty foods or replacing bones with carrots as a crunchy treat.”
Dr Conradi added, “PetSure’s partnership with Fitbark, a GPS activity tracker product, is one way that we are helping pet owners to keep their canines in shape. This allows owners to consciously increase exercise with activities such as more frequent and longer walks. For cats there are many automated and remote controlled toys that can also help get your cat moving.
“Although the vast majority of pets are obese because of their lifestyle, there are also some diseases that can cause obesity in dogs and cats. If people are concerned that their pet is gaining weight in spite of a healthy diet, they should chat to their vet.”
Media contacts: Gigi Shaw, BlueChip Communication 0290188633 [email protected]
- PetSure provides a sense of security to half a million Australian pet owners.
- We are three different businesses within one – a global leader in underwriting, claims processing and administration services.
- As an insurance underwriting agency we power the pet insurance propositions of more than 25 brands, including some of Australia’s most recognizable and prestigious brands, such as IAG, AAMI, Woolworths, RSPCA, PetBarn, Guide Dogs, Medibank, Bupa and HCF.
- As a global leader in claims processing services we assess over half a million Australian claims each year and we are retained by leading pet insurers in the United Kingdom and the United States to provide claims processing services.
- Administration services is our third business arm: the financial technology solution GapOnly. GapOnly is a paperless claims service whereby a customer can obtain claims approval within minutes, without ever leaving the veterinary surgery. It transforms the claims experience with reduced out-of-pocket expenses and is progressively rolling-out to veterinary surgeries and hospitals Australia-wide.
- As an underwriter, administrator and fintech company, PetSure is helping to transform the pet healthcare experience of Australian and global pet parents, with a commitment to their lives with their pets.
- To find out more about PetSure, please visit http://www.petsure.com.au/
 Prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by Australian veterinary practices and the risk factors involved. Vet Rec. 2005