Excess weight can lead to painful health issues for your furry friend.

By Meghan Overdeep
June 30, 2019
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It’s not your imagination: pets are getting fatter.

If you’ve noticed that your cat is getting, well, chunkier, he’s not alone. A recent report from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 60% of U.S. cats are overweight. And dogs are doing only slightly better, with 56% of pet pooches classified as obese.

While you might think that your furry friend is cuter with a little more to love, Banfield Pet Hospital, America's largest general veterinary practice, warns that fat cats and dogs are at risk for chronic health issues. According to a new report, osteoarthritis (OA) in pets is on the rise, with a 66% increase in dogs and a staggering 150% increase in cats in the past 10 years.

OA is a form of arthritis caused by inflammation or damage in joint tissue. While the exact cause is unknown, genetics, injury, or bone abnormalities can all be factors. It’s chronic and degenerative and can make it difficult for pets to move around as they get older.

Unfortunately, obesity has been shown to exacerbate OA. Excess weight can put stress on joints, and if your pet already has OA, that joint discomfort can prevent them from being active, leading to weight gain which worsens the condition. It’s a vicious and painful cycle. A dog is 2.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with OA if it's obese, while cats are 1.2 times more likely.

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Dogs suffering from the condition might put their weight off to one side when sitting, avoid stairs, or show a lack of interest in playing. Cats might exhibit loose or matted hair because they can't reach certain parts of their body for grooming.

If you notice your chubby little friend is slowing down, you might want to visit a veterinarian and ask about your weight loss options. He might not have words, but trust us, he’ll thank you.

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