One in three pets that visited the national chain of Banfield pet facilities in 2016 were overweight or obese, according to Banfield Pet Hospital's 2017 State of Pet Health report. These rising obesity rates are leading to increased health concerns for dogs and cats and higher veterinarian costs for their owners.
Over a 10-year period, there has been a dramatic rise in overweight pets, according to the study. Specifically, researchers noted a 169 percent increase in overweight cats and a 158 percent increase in overweight dogs. In addition to expanding our pets' waistlines, this phenomenon is also stretching our wallets. Covering a four-year period, the study found that owners of overweight dogs spend 17 percent more on health care than do owners of healthy-weight dogs, and people with overweight cats spend 36 percent more on diagnostic procedures.
Extra pounds on a pet can lead to diabetes, arthritis, urinary incontinence and respiratory illness, among other issues. The study cites owners' increasing use of food and treats to show affection and the fact that pets are often used to a more sedentary lifestyle (along with their caretakers) as culprits of the weight gain.
If your pet is at a healthy weight, you should be able to feel its ribs easily and the animal should have an obvious waist. But you should not be able to see your pet's ribs, which could be a sign of malnourishment. If you think your pet may be overweight, the study suggests you work with your veterinarian to devise a nutrition and exercise plan.
The report, which comes out annually, is based on data collected on all pets that are treated in the Banfield system across the United States.