America’s Pets Are Getting Pudgy

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – America’s favorite four-legged companions are getting pudgy.

A new study shows obesity in America has now spread to include obesity in our pet population.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that there are approximately 78 million pet dogs and nearly 86 million pet cats in the U.S. and an alarming number of them are overweight.

“We’ve been seeing that over the past 10 years, overweight and obesity in our cats and dogs has increased by 160- 170 percent,” said Dr. Kirk Breuninger, the lead veterinary researcher behind a study at Banfield Pet Hospital. “Right now, one out of every three cats and dogs are overweight.”

Breuninger attributes this increase to a number of factors including lack of exercise, too much food, and a changing attitude toward our pets.

“We are starting to consider pets more and more to be members of our family and we like to show our affection by offering them treats,” said Breuninger. “It can be pretty easy for us to offer too many treats in a single day to our pets.”

That’s a problem because, just as in humans, lugging around all that extra weight can be hazardous to you pet’s health.

“For example, heart disease and respiratory disease are something that we will see. Type 2 diabetes is something that we will see with cats that are obese, and we can see other diseases that are linked with dogs being overweight, such as hyperthyroidism or arthritis,” said Breuninger.

So how do you know if your pet is getting porky since cats and dogs come in all different shapes and sizes?

Breuninger said you can use this as a general guide: looking at your pet from above, you should see a distinct tuck at your dog or cat’s waist. Or from the side, you should be able to easily feel, but not see, its ribs.

If Fido is too fat or Fluffy is too, well, fluffy, there are some things you can do about it.

“You know even taking a walk, taking a walk is always important, you get a chance to bond with your pet. Something simple like giving them a healthy diet,” said Debora Montgomery, who runs a doggy daycare.

Breuninger agrees. He said simple things like cutting back on treats and ensuring your pet gets some exercise daily will go a long way.

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