An increasing amount of obese dogs and cats are now suffering from the exact same diseases as obese people, according to a recent press release.
In 2015, a survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that approximately 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the US are overweight.
The explanation came to light in yet another harrowing discovery: Researchers determined that more than 90% of pet owners had no idea their pets were overweight. Not only were these pet owners likely paying little attention to their pets’ diets and need for exercise, but they were also completely unaware of the various tell-tale signs of pet obesity.
That study warned that pet obesity is still on the rise, increasing the likelihood of pets developing numerous life-threatening diseases.
Dr. Carmela Stamper, of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, confirmed last week that the obesity epidemic in pets has become so severe that it is causing the same diseases that have shortened the lives of countless human beings.
“Just as obesity has become a serious problem in people, it's also a growing problem in pets, one that can seriously harm your pet's health. The diseases we see in our overweight pets are strikingly similar to those seen in overweight people"
These conditions and diseases include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart and respiratory disease, and kidney problems. Arthritis is the most common obesity-related disease among canines, followed by bladder/urinary tract disease, low thyroid hormone production, liver disease, torn knee ligaments, and diabetes.
Nationwide Insurance revealed last year that more than 42,000 insurance claims were filed for canine arthritis in 2014. Obese cats are most susceptible to bladder and urinary tract disease, which was responsible for 4,700 insurance claims that year.
Dr. Stamper added that certain dog breeds are more likely to become obese, such as Labradors, Beagles, as well as several breeds with long, low body types like Dachshunds and Basset Hounds. No specific breeds of feline, however, are more prone to obesity, she noted. For those who aren’t sure whether or not their pets are overweight, Dr. Stamper advised examining your pet from above to look for a definitive waistline.
"If not, and her back is broad and flat like a footstool, she is likely overweight," she said.
Such pet owners should also run their hands along their pets’ side, as a clear sign of excessive fat is an inability to feel the pet’s ribs. Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, previously urged pet owners to understand that an extra few pounds on a dog or a cat is comparable to an extra 30 to 50 pounds on a human being.
Diabetes, respiratory and arthritic conditions are chronic and incurable in older pets but generally preventable.
Simple ways to keep a pet’s weight in check include limiting treats and table scraps, maintaining an exercise schedule, and monitoring caloric intake. Not sure which foods are best for your pet’s unique needs? Ask your veterinarian, since it seems pet obesity will only decrease once more new pet owners admit they don’t know the first thing about pet health and nutrition. Pet owners should also consult a veterinarian to ensure their pet is healthy enough to begin the diet or exercise regimen they have in mind.
In addition to extending your pet’s life by several years, introducing regular exercise and healthy food into your pet’s routine will dramatically improve your own emotional and physical health as well.
If the pet obesity epidemic continues to worsen, Dr. Ward said, today’s pets will not live as long as previous generations.