Fluffy or fat? More than half of dogs, cats are overweight

Most Americans don't want to admit pets need to drop pounds

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 71% of American adults are overweight or obese, and it looks like it’s rubbing off on our pets.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 56% of dogs and 60% of cats are overweight.

A recent New York Times article reported that veterinarians said nearly half of the dogs they see are overweight or obese, with other vets saying it’s even more.

“Most of the animals coming in, probably about 80% are at least a little bit overweight,” said Dr. Caitrine Hellenga, medical director of Winter Park Veterinary.

Check the American Kennel Club’s breed weight chart to see how much your dog should weigh and weigh them often. The guidelines on many pet food labels are on the high side, so it’s better to judge the amount you feed on whether your animal is gaining or losing weight.

“The first step is to actually measure how much you’re feeding and then cut that back. It depends on how overweight they are, probably about 25% on average,” Hellenga said.

Consider switching to a lower calorie food brand designed for weight loss; make sure they get exercise every day but ease into the regimen.

“You don’t want to see weight loss that’s too dramatic," she said. "So a dog that’s 50 pounds, if you got one or two pounds off the first month, that’s good."

And good means a longer, happier life for you and your pet.

Even though vets said at least 50% of the animals they saw were overweight, only 17% of owners acknowledged their pet was fat.

And Nationwide insurance said that obesity-related veterinary insurance claims exceeded $69 million in 2017.

By the way, a recent survey in the Washington Post said that dog owners are about twice as likely as cat owners to say they are very happy.