PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Is your pet tipping the scale?

You may be surprised to hear just how may pets are considered overweight and obese and there’s a good chance your dog or cat may fit the category.

While you may think a little pudge on your pet is cute, it may be killing them and at the very least creating health problems.

“It’s a silent epidemic that’s killing our pets. Obesity is increasing every year. And that’s the sad thing. We would think with education it should be decreasing,” Dr. Mike Hutchinson with Animal General said.

However, it’s not.

The Association for Pet Obesity prevention says the results of their 2012 survey shows that 53 percent of dogs are estimated to be overweight or obese and around 58 percent of cats are packing on too many pounds.

That means some 80 million pets are too fat, but the bigger problem may be getting through to the owners.

“The disconnect is that owners don’t see them as overweight, even after they’re told, they still think they’re normal,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

Dr. Hutchinson with Animal General said there are basic things that can help reduce your pet’s waistline and the benefits can be seen in three to four months.

He suggests 20 minutes of exercise once or twice a day, along with a change in the food. You should also slim down the portions, but feed your pet more often. That means not just leaving a bowl of food for the entire day.

“It’s better let’s say to feed a pet two meals a day as opposed to one meal a day. One large meal doesn’t help them lose weight. Two meals or three meals does. Just that alone is a significant change,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

With 3,000 brands of dog food out there, changing the food may be intimidating, so Dr. Hutchinson said to call your vet for suggestions.

He said by just restricting calories alone, studies have found you can extend your pet’s life by two years.

The other option is a range of debilitating health problems.

“Chronic kidney disease, diabetes. A lot of people don’t think pets get diabetes, but they do. And cancer. And all of those things can decrease their lives dramatically,” Dr. Hutchinson said.


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Heather Abraham