The plague of overconsumption is ravaging the nation’s pets, as a new report shows pets in U.S. households are fatter than ever before.
According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2017 State of Pet Health Report, which tracked the health habits of 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats who visited facilities in 2016, one in three pets were overweight or obese.
“More than 20 disease conditions have been linked with pets being overweight,” said Dr. Kirk Breuninger a veterinary research assistant at Banfield Pet Hospital. “While some may say, ‘My pet looks cute being pudgy or plump,’ ultimately carrying those extra pounds contributes to exasperating these diseases.”
As their pets get skinnier owners’ bank accounts get fatter, as the report showed owners of overweight dogs spend 17% more in healthcare costs opposed to owners of healthy dogs, and owners of overweight cats spend 36% more in diagnostic procedures versus owners of healthy weight cats.
A pets’ “healthy weight” is determined in consultation with owner and vet tech, according to Breuninger, but it generally requires exercise, and a food intake schedule that reflects the correct species.
“We know a few things that are really linked with pets becoming overweight, one of which is pets not getting enough exercise, pets eating too much food, and pet owners who really consider pets a part of the family use treats as a form of communication with pets,” he said.
Every little change counts when adding years to pets’ lives.
“Even small changes can have big long-term effects,” he said. “Even just going a few extra blocks can have a big difference and if you think about yourself, if you don’t exercise enough feel sluggish and not at your best and we have seen pets likely feel the same way too.”
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