Combating Canine Obesity in the United States

32 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2013

Date Written: October 10, 2013


Obesity is a growing problem in America. A Centers for Disease Control study found that nearly 100,000 Americans were considered obese in 2009-2010. However, obesity is not just a human problem. Our companion animals also suffer from increased obesity, with over half of America’s dog population currently overweight or obese.

While many may consider the plight of overweight dogs a “first world problem,” it is still a problem. This Comment suggests that there should be repercussions for allowing one’s dog to become morbidly obese, and that we should model our animal welfare system after the U.K.’s system. Part II offers a background on canine obesity and what has been done to combat it. Part III analyzes the current statutes and case law involving canine obesity, the status of animals as property, public policy considerations, and what the U.S. needs to improve.

This Comment had two goals: to shed light on the seriousness of canine obesity in the U.S., and to encourage legislators to change our current laws. In assessing responsibility for obese dogs, the U.S. is already behind the U.K. The U.K. has safeguards in place to ensure that animals are not starved, beaten, or overfed. While our courts get involved when a dog is beaten or starved, we allow owners to grossly overfeed their dogs. We could provide our dogs with better protection if we were to modify our animal welfare act to be more like the U.K.’s, so that animals are treated less as property and more as sentient, vulnerable beings.

Keywords: canine, obesity, United States, animal rights, animal law, dog, fat

Suggested Citation

Wambaugh, Shannon, Combating Canine Obesity in the United States (October 10, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

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