Pets in the Northwest, and across the country, are getting fatter, according to a new report out Tuesday.
Banfield Pet Hospital — a Vancouver, Washington-based veterinary clinic chain that was founded in Portland — released its 2017 State of Pet Health report this week, revealing a concerning statistic: One in three pets that visited their facilities last year was diagnosed as being overweight or obese.
“We don’t 100 percent know why [pet obesity] has been increasing," said Dr. Kirk Breuninger, the study's lead researcher. "We just see the trends that we have in our data.”
The numbers reflect a larger trend in pet health — over the past decade, the number of overweight dogs and cats have more than doubled. Overweight dogs have increased 158 percent since 2007, and cats have increased 169 percent, according to the report.
“There’s been over 20 different diseases that have been linked with pets being overweight," Breuninger said. "Some of the common diseases that we’ll see are things like hypothyroidism in dogs ... diabetes in cats, and arthritis tends to be a big one."
Diseases like feline diabetes can require lifelong care and monitoring in order to maintain an animal's quality of life. And Breuninger said conditions like arthritis can not only be painful for your pet, but make it harder to get them the exercise needed to lose weight.
Owners of overweight pets pay more in healthcare and medication costs, too. Banfield estimates owners of overweight dogs spend an estimated $2,026 more per year on medical care than owners of healthy weight dogs. Owners of overweight cats spend an estimated $1,178 more per year.
The Banfield report suggests people can diagnose a correct weight with a short physical inspection. Ideally, they said, a pet’s ribs can be easily felt, but not seen, and a waistline is obvious.
If you want to get your pet thinned down for beach season, Banfield recommends working with a veterinarian to create an individualized health plan for your pet.
They also suggest rewarding furry friends with belly rubs and toys instead of treats, and making sure they get enough exercise.