Animal obesity a growing problem among pets - WNEM TV 5

Animal obesity a growing problem among pets

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MIDLAND COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Everybody loves their pets, but sometimes they may not make the best decisions for their health.

"As he got up, he got up slower and slower," said Sarah Gushow, dog owner.

It started as a small problem for Gushow and her dog Charlie. Her normally active pet wasn't his usual self.

"I ended up checking the weight and he was five pounds heavier than the year before," Gushow said.

What seemed like a small jump in weight was actually a jump in obesity, according to veterinarian doctor Tessa Peterson.

"More than 50 percent of our household pets are obese or overweight," Peterson said.

Peterson said while five pounds may seem small for a human, it's actually amplified for pets. She said there's been an alarming increase in dogs and cats suffering from the epidemic. The consequences of it could be grave.

The obesity problem could cause death or a shortened life expectancy, Peterson said.

"They can have respiratory issues that can lead to death," Peterson said.

There's also an issue with quality of life and other related injuries. Peterson said their joints can wear out and cause pain to the pet.

"Just in general, pets can be euthanized because of excruciating arthritis or other injuries that cannot be managed," Peterson said.

In most cases pets are being fed more than they need and they're simply not getting enough exercise, Peterson said.

Increasing physical activity and decreasing food intake are the keys for success.

"We're trying to find ways to work with our patients to help prevent it before it becomes a problem," Peterson said.

Gushow said she's learned a lot from the process.

"It's challenging at first, but you can really get the weight off to make your dog more comfortable and have a better lifestyle," Gushow said.

It's advice she hopes all pet owners take to heart.

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