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One-third of American pets are overweight, with numbers climbing

Animal obesity levels have been steadily growing in America, and the numbers are still climbing. According to a new study, one out of every three pets in the United States is overweight.

The research was published in the 2017 State of Pet Health report issued by Banfield Pet Hospital. The report says the “alarming levels” of pet obesity reflect a 169 percent increase in obese cats and 158 percent increase in obese dogs over the last 10 years.

The study evaluated 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats at pet hospitals in various regions of the country last year. The findings of the study indicate that owners of overweight pets will spend 17 percent more on healthcare and 25 percent more on medications over the next four years.

According to Nationwide, the largest provider of pet healthcare, 20 percent of pet insurance claims in 2015 were due to obesity-related conditions at a cost of over 60 million dollars. The most common obesity-related illness in cats is bladder and urinary tract disease, while overweight dogs suffer most frequently from arthritis.

Other common diseases for both cats and dogs that are caused by obesity include diabetes, liver disease, and heart failure. Dr. Kirk Breuninger is a veterinary research associate at Banfield Pet Hospital. He points out that over 20 diseases are linked to excess weight in pets.

Experts agree that one of the main causes of animal obesity is that pet owners are unaware of the ideal weight for their pets and are uninformed of their nutritional needs. Additional causes of pet of obesity are lack of exercise and overfeeding.

Dr. Breuninger says that some animal breeds are prone to obesity, such as Maine Coons and Labrador Retrievers. He explains that thyroid conditions or intestinal worms may also contribute to extra weight in pets.

Dr. Breuninger suggests that animal owners determine a healthy weight for their pet with a veterinarian. A proper diet and exercise plan should also be established to maintain the ideal weight. Some easy ways to keep pets on a healthy track include limiting treats and human food, monitoring calories, and sticking to an exercise schedule.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

Source: Banfield Pet Hospital

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