Fat pets may look cute, but veterinarians are sounding the alarm at the increasing numbers of overweight animals they’re seeing in their offices. Just as it is with in the human population, pet obesity is on the rise and it’s a concerning trend among professionals.
According to a new study, over 30% of our furry friends are not just overweight, but they are actually dangerously obese.
The Banfield Pet Hospital just released its 2017 State of Pet Health study, and it reveals that “alarming levels” of American cats and dogs are obese.
In fact, the numbers reported by researchers are downright scary when we consider that our pets are true members of our family. Over the past 10 years there has been a 158% increase in obese dogs and a
169% in obese cats. Today, an astonishing one in three American dogs and cats are overweight.
Increased weight translates to increased health issues and correspondingly high vet bills. The study estimates that within a nearly five year window of time owners of overweight dogs can expect to pay 25% more in medication costs and almost 20% more in overall healthcare costs.
Likewise, cat owners can expect to pay over 35% more for diagnostic procedures for overweight cats in roughly the same time period.
This latest study is based on the 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats seen in the pet hospital’s American facilities in 2016.
Dr. Kirk Breuninger of Banfield Pet Hospital noted that the overweight pet trend started about five years ago and that over 20 diseases are linked to obesity. Owners of Labrador Retrievers, Maine Coons and Cocker Spaniels should be aware that these popular breeds are among those with a predisposition to piling on the pounds if allowed to eat unchecked.
So what can a pet parent do to help their fur baby achieve a healthy weight? Breuninger recommends that owners should consult with their vets to develop a healthy plan to first lose excess pounds and then to maintain a healthy weight.
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Cutting out human food treats is one of the quickest ways to impact your pet’s weight. According to Breuninger, “even small changes can have big long-term effects.”
Increased life expectancy and delayed disease onset are just two of the important benefits of helping your fur baby maintain a healthy weight.
So ignore those puppy dog eyes, put the food treats away, and go for a fun, healthy walk together instead! The decisions you make today could have a powerful impact on the quality of life your pet enjoys years down the road.