Why Your Pet Might Need to Go on a Diet

Humans aren't the only ones with an eating problem. Vitaly Korovin/Shutterstock

Food is love; just ask any Italian grandmother. But we're apparently loving our pets way too much.

The majority of dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight, and those numbers just keeping growing. According to a new report from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 60 percent of cats and 56 percent of dogs are overweight. The findings mean an estimated 50.2 million dogs and 56.5 million cats are above healthy weight.

"The number of pets with clinical obesity continues to increase," said Dr. Ernie Ward, the founder of APOP Founder and a veterinarian. "We’re continuing to see more pets diagnosed with obesity rather than overweight. Clinical obesity results in more secondary conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease and certain forms of cancer. Pets with obesity also have reduced quality of life and shorter life expectancy."

A 2017 study conducted by Banfield charted the number of cases of obesity and overweight pets per state, and the results were relatively surprising. While Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana had the highest prevalence of overweight and obese humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that didn't match their canine counterparts. Those states had the lowest rates of pudgy dogs in the country.

And just because people are active in a state doesn't mean they necessarily bring their pets along for the ride. Colorado and Washington state were both in the top 15.

States with the highest percentage of overweight dogs:

  1. Minnesota
  2. Nebraska
  3. Michigan
  4. Idaho
  5. Nevada
  6. New Mexico
  7. Washington
  8. Utah
  9. Indiana
  10. Oregon

States with the highest percentage of overweight cats:

  1. Minnesota
  2. Nebraska
  3. Iowa
  4. Idaho
  5. Delaware
  6. Michigan
  7. Nevada
  8. Kansas
  9. Utah
  10. New Mexico

Need motivation to stop heaping food in your pet's dish? Banfield says obesity in pets has been linked to 20 ailments, including arthritis. Plus, it can have an impact on your wallet.

Owners of overweight dogs spend about 17 percent more on health care costs and 25 percent more on medications, while owners of overweight cats spend 36 percent more on diagnostic procedures compared to owners of cats that are at a healthy weight, according to Banfield.

All in the breed

Some pet breeds are more prone to packing on the extra pounds. According to Banfield, Labrador retrievers, Cairn terriers and cocker spaniels are reported to have a higher rates of obesity among dogs, while in the cat category,Manx, Maine coon and Russian blues are more likely to be obese.

If your pet is overweight (which is defined as 10 percent over ideal body weight), you can't easily see or feel his ribs. If he is obese (20 percent over ideal body weight), you can't feel his ribs and your pet has no discernible waist.