Flabby Fido: More Than Half of America’s Pets Are Overweight

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Giving your dog or cat table scraps might seem like a nice reward for good behavior. But it could be contributing to an epidemic.

According to a survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and Mars Inc.’s Banfield Pet Hospital, more than half of America’s dogs and cats are overweight or obese. One-fifth of American pets are obese, measuring 30% above normal weight, the Wall Street Journal reports.

(More on TIME.com: See pictures of a real-life hotel for dogs)

Some pet owners may think a little extra chub is cute on their pet. But, just like in adults, being overweight leads pets to develop conditions like diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure. That leads dogs and cats to suffer, and owners to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills. Last year, pet owners who had insurance policies with Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. forked over $25 million for vets to care for conditions related to obesity.

The dog-food industry has released weight-reduction varieties, and entrepreneurs have developed doggie exercise machines. But keeping pets healthy really comes down to owners walking their dogs and knowing not to overfeed their best friends.  (via Wall Street Journal)

(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 pets in power)

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