Give Now

A Moment of Science

The United States Has A Pet Obesity Problem

More than fifty percent of pet dogs and almost sixty percent of pet cats are obese.

an obese terrier

If your pet is obese, you need to have a frank talk with your veterinarian about how to improve its quality of life. (patries71, Flickr)

It’s no secret that obesity is a major problem. Around one in three adults in the United States is obese.

But humans aren’t the only ones carrying too much weight. Many of our pets, too, are overweight.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than fifty percent of dogs and nearly sixty percent of cats in the United States are overweight or obese.

[pullquote] A veterinarian can tell you how much your pet is supposed to weigh based on their breed and age.[/pullquote]

And much like people, overweight animals suffer some pretty serious consequences. Obese dogs often get arthritis and may have shorter life spans, while overweight cats suffer from asthma, high blood pressure, and gall bladder disorder.

Cooks For Cats

So, what’s going on? Obviously, cats and dogs alone are not to blame. After all, our pets don’t cook their own meals. Not surprisingly, the problem lies with how and how much pet owners feed their pets, and how little regular exercise many pets get.

We all enjoy rewarding our pets with treats. But just like with humans, indulging pets with too many food rewards can cause serious weight gain, especially if the dog is allowed to wander around the yard instead of going on walks, or the cat mostly lies around instead of being engaged in active play.

Walks And Laser Pointers

The solution is often pretty simple. Don’t feed your pet table scraps and indulge them with too many treats.

If you have a cat, get it going by chasing a laser pointer or cat toy. If you have a dog, take it on regular walks. Do talk to your vet. There are times, especially with cats, that overeating can be an indication of other health issues.

Your pet loves you no matter what. But they’ll be especially happy if you keep their weight in check.

If this article has you thinking about obesity in people, you can click here to read about the best ways to alleviate childhood obesity or another recent article about how a person’s sense of smell can influence their ability to gain and lose weight. 

Thank you to Deborah Linder of Tufts University for reviewing this episode’s script.

Sources And Further Reading:

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science