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Cats and Dogs Across the Country Are Getting Too Chubby — But Here's How to Help Them

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The latest survey on pet obesity revealed some disappointing news: The majority of pet cats and dogs in the United States are now obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). And it seems like the numbers keep climbing higher and higher all over the country.

“The number of pets with clinical obesity continues to increase,” said APOP founder Ernie Ward, DVM. “We’re continuing to see more pets diagnosed with obesity rather than [being] overweight.” In fact, APOP's 10th annual survey found that pet obesity now affects 56 percent of dogs and 60 percent of cats. While those numbers are alarming, the good news is that 58 percent of pet owners and 54 percent of veterinary professionals reported that they have tried to help their furry friends lose weight.

As American Veterinarian reports, pet obesity can have some pretty detrimental effects on cats and dogs, including higher risk of secondary conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and even cancer. So it's a good thing that most of the pet owners and vets out there are trying to encourage weight loss for their four-legged friends. After all, we want them around as long as possible! Luckily, there are a few concrete things you can do to help your precious pet slim down and get healthy — and they're not too different from many common weight loss tips for humans.

How to Prevent Pet Obesity

  1. At the next vet appointment, be sure to ask about the best diet for your pet. Whether your pet needs a weight-loss diet or simply a maintenance diet, it never hurts to get food recommendations from the person who knows your kitty or doggo's health best.
  2. If you own a dog, be sure to exercise him or her regularly. Most canines need some level of physical activity to stay in shape and good health. If you're not sure how much exercise your specific breed of dog needs, be sure to ask your vet.
  3. Keep in mind that you might need to arrange for someone else to help your pet exercise, depending on how busy your schedule is and any physical limitations you have. Be sure to only leave your dog with a person you 100 percent trust.
  4. After you get your proper recommendations, be sure to stick to them. With so many pet products on the market, it's hard to get confused about which one is "the best" for your pup or kitty. Make a list based on what a trusted professional says, not what a random Google search suggests — and then don't stray from it.

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