FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 11 (UPI) -- A study says 20 percent of America's 171 million dogs and cats are obese, a 10 percent increase from 2007, with attendant problems like diabetes and arthritis.
As with humans, weight issues in pets produce health woes and can significantly shorten lifespan, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Friday.
"We just keep seeing more and more overweight pets," Fort Lauderdale veterinarian Dr. Jesus Aramendi said. "Some owners recognize it, but others don't. Or they are just in denial."
Part of the problem is that a small weight gain in a pet can be a significant increase, he said, noting that if a nine-pound cat gains a pound, that's an 11 percent increase.
"That's like a 180-pound man going up to 200," he says. "We need to make pet owners aware of that."
Dogs are natural hunters, so when they find food, their inclination is to eat, said veterinarian Dr. Robert.
"In their natural makeup, they'd eat only once every week or two weeks, and that was in a pack," he said. "Then they eat all they can. They're gluttonous by nature. You put food down, they will eat it regardless of whether they need it or not."
The problem is made worse by guilt, he said.
"You rarely seen an owner who has underfed his pet."