Thinking about chubby cats trying to squeeze into cereal boxes and roly-poly dogs lying belly-up waiting for a scratch might make you giggle. But animal obesity is no joke.
About one-third of dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight, according to the Banfield Pet Hospital's 2017 State of Pet Health—close to the percentage of U.S. adults that are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number has increased by 169 percent for cats and 158 percent for dogs over the last 10 years. And just as with humans, obesity puts pets at risk for plenty of health issues. For dogs, being overweight can complicate orthopedic diseases, respiratory diseases, and urinary incontinence. And for cats, it can complicate diabetes, orthopedic diseases, and respiratory diseases.
Banfield scored these stats by analyzing the 2.5 million dogs and 505,000 cats seen at Banfield Hospitals in 2016. However, another organization's data shows that the problem is even worse. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP)—which, yes, is a real thing—estimates that about 30 percent of cats are obese but a whopping 58 percent are overweight. For dogs, those numbers hit 20 percent and 53 percent, respectively. (It's worth noting that their yearly pet obesity survey is smaller, looking at about 1,224 dogs and cats.)
Unlike humans, dogs and cats don't really get tempted by late-night pizza or Netflix binges instead of eating veggies and going to the gym. So why exactly are pets more overweight than ever before? The same stuff that causes human obesity: overfeeding and underexercising, according to Banfield's report. (Although did you know getting a dog comes with 15 health benefits?)
It makes sense. Pets love to follow their owners around. But since we've become such a sedentary society, our pets are bound to be more sedentary too. And when we go grab a late-night snack from the pantry, their little "can I have some too?!" face is usually too cute to resist. If you're a proud Fluffy or Fido owner, it's time to check in on your furbaby's weight. Banfield's helpful infographic below provides guidelines on the normal weight for a dog or cat as well as how much food they actually need (despite how many times they tell you they need another treat).