EDWARDSBURG Over 50% of household cats and dogs in the U.S. are considered overweight. Obesity is a big concern because it's been linked with diabetes, joint injury and some types of cancer.
To help solve what some veterinarians are calling an "obesity epidemic," a local vet says these things can help.
"Pets that are receiving all of this excess 'love' in the form of food are actually suffering the consequences of excess calories," said Dr. David Visser, a vet at the Center for Animal Care.
"The most important thing is to focus on the calories a pet is being offered per day. Sometimes it can be by cutting out the table scraps and the treats, sometimes it can be by reducing the amount of food that is being fed."
Dr. Visser says it's also important to get consistent exercise.
"Going for walks is a really important way in which we can increase the activity, and purposeful activity, of people and pets at the same time," said Dr. Visser.
"Pets that are overweight actually are putting a lot of burden and pressure on their bones and joints."
Joint concern is a worry of a Michiana couple. Their dog, Maddie, is 13 pounds overweight, and because of her breed, they think excess weight could take a toll on her knees.
"It's common in German Shepherds to have hip dysplasia," said Pam Lung.
'When they weighed her this morning she weighs 103 pounds, and the goal weight for her is to be around 90 pounds," said Lung.
Lung says Maddie gained the weight after she was spayed. The family has also been inactive over the rough winter. Now that warmer weather is on the way, they plan to let Maddie swim and run outdoors. They've also cut her meals in half and put her on a prescription diet.
"If you want your pet to be a part of your life for a long time, which we do," said Lung. "You want to make sure they are going to be a healthy pet and that they're going to enjoy their time with you as much as you enjoy their time with them"
For more information about your pet's health, contact an area veterinarian.