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Addressing the Epidemic: Overweight Dogs

what pounds mean to your pet

Though you may think nothing of your dog’s extra pound(s), more than half of the dogs in the United States are overweight — an issue that has only gotten worse over the years. Obesity in dogs can cause a variety of health-related problems and may even shorten the lifespan of your beloved dog. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to become informed on the issue and find a healthy way to get your dog’s weight back on track.

Dog Obesity by the Numbers

The number of dogs tipping the scale at above-average weights has increased year over year, with 53 percent of adult dogs classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian, according to a 2011 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Of the 88.4 million pets deemed too heavy by their vets, study results found that owners of these pets may have trouble recognizing the issue, with 22 percent of dog owners characterizing them as having a normal weight when he was actually obese, according to APOP.

How do Dogs Become Overweight?

Dogs become overweight for a variety of reasons including too much caloric intake, too little exercise, too frequent feedings and consuming table scraps or foods made for people, said Katie Grzyb, a DVM at the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group in Brooklyn, NY. Treats have also become a major part of the issue. In an online poll conducted by APOP, 93 percent of dog owners gave their dogs treats, with 26 percent reporting that they gave their dog multiple treats per day. Any one, or combination of, these things over time can lead to a dangerous problem.

What Do You Do Next if Your Dog is Overweight? 3 Steps to Help Your Overweight Dog

For the complete slideshow on overweight pets, visit petMD.