America’s Portly Pet Problem

MIAMI (CBS4) – While walking your pet down the sandy beaches of South Beach may be at the top of every pet owners priorities, a new report said not many are following through and pets are starting to suffer because of it.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of American pets are overweight or obese.

The main factor behind the battle of the pet bulge was owners who overfeed, don’t exercise their animals enough, and don’t know the problems caused by excess weight on pets.

Mark Binnion lives in Fort Lauderdale and recently took his 24-pound cat Sebastian in to the vet’s office and found out, there’s a serious problem.

“Recently, Sebastian was a little listless, tired,” explained Binnion. “We took him down to the vet. They said he was obviously overweight and that he had diabetes.”

Sebastian used to eat three cups of food a day. Now, that’s been severely cut and he’s taking insulin shots twice a day.

Veterinarian Dr. Sofia Morales at Coral Springs Animal Hospital said she has seen a huge increase in overweight pets.

“They’re taking in way too many calories and they’re not burning them, kind of like us,” Dr. Morales said.

She said the problems pets have are the same as people who are overweight.

“Diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney failure, tumors,” she explained. “In addition, we are seeing more arthritis.”

According to the Journal, research now shows that pets fed less over their lifetime can live significantly longer.

The obesity problem among pets is following the numbers for men and women across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in every state, including Florida, at least 15 percent of the adult population is obese.

In fact, the CDC said Florida had between 20 and 30 percent of the adult population overweight and obese.

According to the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the obesity problem in pets is almost equivalent to problems from smoking in human medicine, the Journal reported.

Coral Springs Animal Hospital offers new therapies to help animals lose weight. They’re using an underwater treadmill, originally designed to help animals with limb problems.

“It certainly helps for the buoyancy of the water to help them to be able to stand up for longer periods of time and be able to walk for longer periods of time,” explained Shayne Garnder from Coral Springs Animal Hospital.

The Journal also found that pet health insurance policies are now paying out millions of dollars in costs related to obesity problem. The Binnion family will shell out thousands of dollars for their cat’s health problems from obesity.

“It’s obviously not covered by insurance,” said Binnion. “So it’s a $2,000 a year expense for overfeeding your cat.”

For more information on healthy treats and better pet health care at home, click here.

More from Ted Scouten
  • Common Sense

    Feeding less isn’t the answer. Feeding a species-appropriate diet is. Many dogs and cats are fed dry kibble, lacking water with sometimes over 30% carbohydrates. In carnivores such as dogs and cats, carbs are converted to fat. Canned or raw meat diets low in carbs and without grains will allow dogs and cats to naturally lose weight safely and keep it off.

    • WhatIsRight

      The farmers know if you want to fatten the livestock feed them CORN.

      People, read the ingredients on your pet food label. If the first ingredient is corn don’t buy it.

      • WhatIsRight

        In humans too…..carbohydrates are converted into FAT.

      • WAKE UP!

        Corn and carbs aren’t the problem!!! Overfeeding pet diets, treats and “people” food is the problem! Too many calories in and not enough burned causes weight gain. Raw food diets come with safety issues (particulary in homes with small children) of ecoli and salmonella contamination. These sickening and sometimes deadly bacteria can be picked up by you and your family preparing meals (on food bowls), from kisses and in feces. You should always consult your vet to come up with a customized diet plan for your pet and to rule out any possible underlying diseases that can cause weight gain.

    • Fat Cat

      Exactly! I was feeding our cat per the guidelines on the bag – 2/3 cup a day, and she begged for food constantly. I talked to the vet, who said the problem was that cats don’t eat grain normally – they eat meat. He recommended that if I wanted to stick with dry food (I do for convenience reasons) look for the one with the highest level of crude protein. Oddly enough – the most expensive food (Iams Indoor) has the least amount of crude protein – only 28%. Purina One Indoor formula is the highest I’ve found so far – 38%. I’ll be switching her to that.

      • Garrett

        Great info, I”m in the exact same situation. We feed our cat 2/3 cup a day and she’s always meowing and trying to tear the food bag open with her teeth.

      • IamRight.

        Thats right. Just like humans……the more carbs (like corn) you eat – the hungrier you are. Cats, dogs & humans were not designed to eat huge amount of carbs.

        When you do, you get fat & stay hungry (and eat more).

      • Common Sense

        Wellness’ CORE is 50%.

      • glutensensitive

        Read the label carefully. Wheat gluten = protein. Cats and dogs cannot digest wheat gluten and it causes disease when not digested properly, in people as well as their pets. Pet food companies use the cheaper grain proteins to boost the crude protein level. “Protein” does not equal meat.

    • Jay Caldwell

      It’s true. We took in my daughter’s 5 year old obsese cat. Within 2 months of not eating his olddiet of dry food with corn as the main ingredient, he is approaching normal size. We have been feeding him wet canned food and only do leave dry food (without corn as the first listed ingredient) out for him. Read the labels!

    • Fat Cat

      I free feed my cat. He loves to eat. He is fat as hell and also very happy. If he dies, I will get a new cat. Yipee!

    • Jesse Crawford

      Common Sense is RIGHT…We have 8 cats and none is overweight (rescued male Seal Point Siamese – 14 lbs, female tiger/tortoise – 11 lbs, female black American Medium hair – 9 lbs, male black Bombay – 13 lbs, trapped feral mom – Egyptian Mau mix 10 lbs – and 3 kittens now 11 months old – male Russian Blue mix 12 lbs, male longhair light orange tabby, 12 lbs and female longhair Russian Blue tortoise mix. All have shiny hair and no skin problems. We feed EVO Ancestral Diet Kitten & Cat food – dry Turkey & Chicken formula. It had 50% protein, 22% fat, 7% carbs and 10% moisture. Protein is for muscle, bone and sinews…fat is for energy and carbs are for storage (fat)…same holds humans.

    • More Common Sense...

      Agreed…to a point – the species appropriate diet is very important, but quantity is also definitely an issue! Many many people feed their animals way too much, and that problem is compounded by the fact that they are feeding “junk food” essentially. Check out the natural foods section at Petco for instance, and you’ll find an abundance of healthier options available very conveniently!

      • Common Sense

        You are right. When fed a diet not meeting one’s needs, such as not enough meat protein, the body responds by being hungry so you eat more to satisfy the protein requirement, but by then, you’ve eaten too much.

    • SargeH

      This is a national nightmare. NOT!!!!! Who gives a rip?

    • lugz

      Is Michelle Obama working on this problem? She will probably go after the pet food manufacturers

  • Laz M

    Maybe Michelle Obama should begin “let’s move that pet” … an anti-obesity program aimed at the nation’s obese pets.

    • lukuj

      My thought exactly. It miightt not be enough for her and her husband to try to regulate every aspect of the lives of humans in the country. Perhaps they want to expand to regulating the lives of pets also. The pets closely resemble Obama supporters in the fact they follow and trust even those who are leading them to eventual destruction.

      • whatIsRight

        Maybe the regime will come up with a new federal tax for pets, progressive of course.
        (so those evil rich people can pay “their fair share”).

  • WhatIsRight

    99% of all pet foods have CORN as their main ingredient . Completely unnatural for cats and dogs to get most of their calories from CORN.
    Same for humans, its the corn & starches that make people fat.

    • Bob

      People have been eating corn from prehistoric times. So, no, it’s not the “same for humans”. Also corn is a huge source of food aid to third world countries. That dang corn, feeding the worlds hungry. I call for a boycott!

      • Stef

        Actually, our species mostly survived (and evolved) on meats, organ meats and supplemented it with berries, nuts, and wild veggies. Only until the invention of modern farming did we start eating excess grains. Our bodies evolved eating *very* little grain and corn. Now most of the calories people get comes in some form of corn – read the labels on everything. I recommend watching the documentary “King Corn”. Then you’ll really see the impact it’s having.

      • WhatIsRight

        No, Bob. People have not been eating CORN since prehistoric times.

        I do think eating corn is better than starving (as in the 3rd world countries), but not by much.

    • Stef

      Very true – get your pets off that crap that has corn in it…. if you can’t afford to feed your pet what it needs then don’t have one.

  • Patrick Juvet

    Waiting for Sarah Palin to condemn this as yet another way the state is interfering in American’s rights to make their own decisions.

    • Jim

      You just cannot get Grizzly Mama off your mind. Is it a fetish?

    • Fat Cat

      Obsessed, much? I mean, she’s pretty hot, after all.

  • CommonSense?

    I’m just astounded that a grown man would need a vet to explain that his 24 pound cat was overweight.

    • Fat Cat

      We had a cat like that – 23 lbs. He was so fat his belly dragged on the floor. And the vet told me if I didn’t put him on a diet, he’d die from diabetes. He went on a diet, and lived another 10 years. He was always a big cat, though – even slimmed down he still weighed in at 16 lbs and had a bigger frame than most small dogs…

  • Nanny Mo

    Well this is a national outrage for sure! There must be something in Obamacare to force them to go on a diet.

    • lolbama

      We need mandatory health insurance for pets!

  • jeff myers

    Sounds like we need our liberal governmaent to get involved and mandate what to feed pets.

  • Art Cancro

    You’ve got that right, Hank. We need less government and more cuddly pets!

  • kentex1146

    I’ll go ‘All IN’ that this ‘Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’ receives government funding in the form of grants, etc.

    Anyone want ot call that bet?

    • denise

      I only bet on a sure thing….and this is it.

  • clubbers

    This is bad news? Keep them fat, we’ll need something to eat in the next couple of years when the dollar goes down the crapper!

  • Noah

    Awwww. That picture of the dog is so cute!

  • Two Cents

    As soon as MIchelle rests up from her Vail vacation she can get right on it. Our pets can eat grass, the first dog will dine on ribs prepared by the WH chef..

  • Andy

    Where is Michelle Obama when you really need her?

  • Cara C

    There is obviously something wrong with our food supply.

    • Fat Cat

      No – people need to stop being lazy. Most dogs need to run for several HOURS a day. They are not indoor pets. People get them, feed them a crapload of carbs, then lock them in the house all day while they go off to work. Then they MIGHT take them for a short stroll around the block when they get home from work if they aren’t too tired. And most people keep their cats indoors because they either wind up getting hit by cars or eaten by coyotes (at least in our area). It’s not the food supply – the problem is with the pet owners.

  • people suck

    Cats have become more of an indoor animal than outdoors in the last 2 centuries. Like kids, they aren’t getting enough exercise.

  • Stef

    Very simple – pets take after their owners and are the direct result of their care, love, training, and habits. Fat person = fat dog. 3/4 of this nation is obese and I’m truly not surprised the pets are too.

  • Justin

    $2k/year? Crap! If my dog ever got so fat it needed 2000 dollars annually in treatment… I wouldn’t be able to keep my dog anymore. Sayonara Sammy! Lol

  • Barbara

    Unfortunately, if you live in an apratment, HOW MUCH EXERCISE can a cat get? I feed my cats ONLY CANNED food and they are STILL HEAVY! Any suggestions? Aside from buying treadmills and putting them on them everyday, what do any of you suggest? It is a big, big problem, especially if you work an 8-9 hour day. The cats are NOT overfed. Once the food runs out, I do not leave dry kibble out.

  • Remus

    check it out… all the brands at petco, maybe besides solid gold are junk, only corn and fillers, nothing nutritious to your pet

  • te

    Search for a pet food rating system and know what’s in your pets food.
    It will bring you to tears reading how it’s all about money.
    Find a highly rated food that contains NO GRAINS.
    Eukanuba Lab formula contains 49% corn, that’s a disgrace.

  • jtsgrandmom

    If your dog is overweight, you aren’t getting enough exercise. :-)

  • denise

    Don’t tell the First Lady.

  • Jeffsd

    Whatever. A pet lives for 0-20 years, then dies. Let them eat what they want and enjoy the small amount of time they have.

    • tee

      Dude, it’s the QUALITY of life also! Would you say the same thing to a person? Live 75 years and “enjoy” your diabetic, arthritis riddled life?

  • jman

    and this is news why? is it a national security crisis (to those at PETA maybe) but really, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. lets focus on the important things in the world, and not how much kibble we feed fido.

    • tee

      Why bother reading the article and replying if it doesn’t matter? Do you only read articles that relate to national security? Just because it isn’t important to you doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

  • Donna Guillaume

    Please feed your pet properly. Most commercial food is not fit for consumption. Pay alittle more to buy good food & spend alot less at the vet.

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