It’s hardly news that Americans are getting heavier, but a report says that our nation’s pets are just as overweight as their owners. Banfield Pet Hospital released its State of Pet Health Report 2017, and this year’s paper “focuses on the alarming levels of obesity affecting dogs and cats in the United States.”

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According to the report, one out of every three dogs and cats are overweight, a trend that has continued for the past 10 years. Cats have seen an increase in weight problems by 169 percent, while rates for hefty dogs have risen by 158 percent. There are a variety of reasons, but one glaring issue is that fat animals is the new normal, so many pet parents don’t even realize their dog or cat has a weight problem.

Banfield reports that people often use food as a way to communicate and express love for their pets, just as with human relationships. This can lead to bad habits, like giving your pooch a scoop of ice cream or letting them nibble on pizza. Others just don’t know how much to feed their furry loved ones, which combined with a lack of exercise, can cause pets to gain weight.

Certain animal breeds are susceptible to weight problems, too. MSN reports that beagles, Scottish Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers and bulldogs often suffer from obesity. Beagles and bulldogs might be less surprising than their smaller counterparts and the website writes that Scottish Terriers tend to gain weight due to an underactive thyroid that makes the pups lazy. Yorkshires, on the other hand, needs lots of exercise and don’t always get the two hour daily recommendation, causing the small dogs to get heavy.

As if counting your own calories weren’t enough, the Banfield report indicates that it’s best to be mindful about how much you’re feeding pets. Smaller animals will of course need less food, and human treats can take up a significant amount of your pets’ daily calorie needs. Say you have a smaller dog, roughly 10 pounds; according to the report, a piece of cheese would take up about one-third of your pet’s daily allotted calories. A one-ounce piece of cheese is only 114 calories, but that feels like a splurge for a Pug who only gets 342 calories a day.

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Maintaining a healthy weight is just as important to our pets as it is to us. Many of the same issues that are exacerbated by extra pounds for people, like heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, are worsened in dogs and cats too. Those added pounds can be costly. According to the California Veterinary Medical Association, pet insurance claims for illnesses caused by obesity have risen. They report that heart issues have increased 47 percent in the last two years alone. Diabetes claims have risen 16 percent and hypertension has increased 27 percent. ​

“Just like us, it’s easy to let our pets become couch potatoes,” said CVMA past-president Jon Klingborg, DVM, in a statement. “Helping our animal friends lose weight and become leaner can extend the length and quality of their lives. It could be the best gift you ever give yourself—and your pet.”

See Also:

Why Drastically Cutting Calories Won't Help You Lose Weight; Neurons May Block Dieting Efforts

Diet Trends 2017: How The Popular 80/10/10 Eating Plan Affects Weight Loss, Blood Sugar