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America’s Portly Pet Problem

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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.

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