What Are They Feeding You? 50% of U.S. Cats and Dogs Are Overweight

Adorable, but uncool. Look what 6 months of proper diet and exercise can do, though.

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pc_18845.jpgReal vs. Ideal Weight

That phenomenon where pets resemble their owners takes a sad turn when it comes to unhealthy weight gain. By 2030, 50 percent of people in most U.S. states will be obese. Now the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that over 50 percent of dogs and cats are overweight, and over 20 percent are obese.

The U.K.'s PDSA, a veterinary charity, demonstrated how much of a difference six months of sensible eating and plenty of exercise can make for even the most extreme cases (although, just like in humans, weight loss at too rapid of a pace is unsafe). What's especially cool about the results of their Pet Fit Club, even for those of us who don't have fat pets, is that it shows how adhering to a diet plan can have life-altering effects: in all of the photos they released, the pets really do look happier.

Take, for example, the contest winner, "Jumbo" Jack, who weighed 45 pounds at the onset. Jack wasn't able to lie down properly, let alone exercise, before going on his diet. By the final weigh-in (pictured above), he had lost 31 percent of his body weight, and now prefers to go by "Jumping Jack Flash."

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The PDSA recommends commercial dog food over personally preparing your dog's food or letting him eat off the table. It's also a good idea to keep your dog away from your medical marijuana. (There's been a rash of high dogs in the Denver area, and they get the munchies just like high humans.) 


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Maverick, a cat enrolled in the Pet Fit Club, was declared by his vet to be the biggest cat he had ever seen. His owners couldn't help but give in to his cries for more food than he needed, until he reached the point where he was having trouble breathing. And even for a cat, he was sleeping too much.

Cats, too, should be kept on a pet food diet, and the PDSA recommends against giving them treats, since they're not usually active enough to burn off those extra calories. The great part about being a cat is the huge difference two and a half pounds makes: 8053670418_a7219f24e3_z615.jpg8053670518_687aca44c9_z615.jpg


Rabbit obesity is actually a growing concern, and Bobby was the first bunny to join the Pet Fit Club. She had developed such a huge double chin that she was unable to groom herself. So on top of being sad and slow, she was also getting smelly:

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It took Bobby a while to start seeing results, but a diet of good quality hay, a variety of fresh greens, and a small amount of rabbit nuggets combined with more space to hop around got her back in shape. She now has a rabbit friend who she likes to play with, and she often does "binkies" -- a rabbit expression of joy -- to celebrate her newfound health:

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More motivational results from the Pet Fit Club:

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While it's difficult to point fingers when it comes to human obesity, we can probably all agree that pets can't be held responsible for their weight gain. The good news is that once an owner decides to get his or her pet healthy, the animal basically has no choice but to adhere to the diet. Even if it's really, really good at begging.

Since one-third of U.S. humans are overweight, this could be a great opportunity for weight loss programs that address both pets and their owners -- wherein everyone experiences the benefits of running around outside more often.

Photos courtesy of the PDSA


Presented by

Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon and a former writer and producer for The Atlantic's Health Channel.

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