Veterinarians say pet obesity epidemic is growing - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Veterinarians say pet obesity epidemic is growing

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

Veterinarians say pet obesity is an epidemic that just keeps growing.

Dr. Sean Byrd, a veterinarian at Skyview Animal Clinic, said the number one disease that they see is obesity. He said if not treated, it can lead to more problems and even death.

"Sixty to 70 percent of our pet population is overweight,” Dr. Byrd said.

Dr. Byrd said cats and dogs aren't our only furry friends with extra fat.

"I'm seeing more rabbits and guinea pigs and horses,” Dr. Byrd said.

Doctor Byrd said it's important that we get our pet's weight under control. If we don't, the extra pounds could lead to more.

"You've got things like heart disease and there's some hormonal diseases that they can get,” Dr. Byrd said.

He said it's also important to catch the disease early. That's why cat owner Heather DiStefano said she didn't wait to put her pets on a healthier diet.

"They like anything we chicken and it's also grain-free,” DiStefano said.

She now feeds them a mix of dry and wet, more nutritious foods.

"We've seen an improvement just in their activity level and one of the cats has lost five pounds which is huge,” DiStefano said.

Dr.Byrd said the key to animal weight loss is the same as it is for us.

"Decrease food and increase exercise. First thing,” Dr. Byrd said.

Like DiStefano, Dr. Byrd said the right foods can also help manage weight.

"Besides just cutting back on the amount of food and the amount of fat in food, what can we really do to keep them healthy,” Dr. Byrd said.

It's a decision DiStefano said she definitely doesn't regret.

"It was decreasing her life span and I wanted to give her a longer, healthier life,” DiStefano said.

Doctor Byrd said if you're concerned about your pet's weight, keep track of it by weighing every day, then cut back on how much they're eating.

Of course, your pet's vet can also tell you whether or not they're at a healthy weight.

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