Pet obesity on the rise, meaning less healthy cats and dogs

Pet obesity on the rise, meaning less healthy cats and dogs
"58 percent of our pets are overweight," Dr. Lambrecht said.

Big dogs, fat cats. For humans, that’s usually a good thing. For real dogs and cats, it can be deadly.

More than half the dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Dr. Ken Lambrecht from the West Towne Veterinary Center has made pet weight loss a personal mission.

“The problem is huge; 58 percent is the latest statistic that we go by. 58 percent of our pets are overweight,” Lambrecht said.

For humans, a pound here or there is no big deal, but for an average 10-pound cat, just two extra pounds is 20 percent overweight, making them technically obese. Dogs, of course, vary by breed– the website for the Pet Nutrition Alliance allows you to pick your dog’s breed and find the ideal weight.

Eight years ago, Lambrecht started his pet “Reducing for Rescues, Ideal Weight Loss” contest. Pet obesity gets worse every year, and, like humans, the long list of health problems associated with that continues to grow as well, Lambrecht said.

“The list is long, but I would start with diabetes, arthritis is made worse, just general vitality,” he said. “These pets don’t feel well. They just lay around. Somebody with an 18-pound cat goes, ‘You know, he just lays in the sun, he’s not hunting, he’s not doing any of the things that cats should be doing.'”

And guess what, pet owners? You’re the problem.

Author and animal behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell has spent her life studying pets and their owners.

“Unless (pets) can unlatch the cupboard and open up the can of dog food themselves, it’s really all about us,” she said.

It comes down to this — don’t overfeed your pets, make sure they get exercise and watch the calories.

Sound familiar? It should. If an animal is obese, you shouldn’t start a diet without the direction of a vet, but there is good news, Lambrecht said.

“If a cat is just a little bit overweight, or a dog is just a little bit overweight and they’re perfectly healthy, you can certainly … do a 10 or 20 percent reduction,” he said.