Fat pets are a big problem

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

The saying comes with a little extra weight: &8220;Why, that&8217;s just more to love.&8221;

And when it comes to pets, that especially seems to be the case &8212; think about the popularity of &8220;Garfield.&8221;

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Many people think overweight pets are cute, but it&8217;s not healthy. Obesity in pets can lead to a number of diseases that are costly to treat and can kill your pet, according the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The association has issued a number of reports showing the damage obesity can cause to animals. In January, the association formed an alliance with the company Pet Nutrition Inc., and has announced plans to tour the country and send out obesity awareness and prevention kits for veterinarians to share with pet owners.

Youngblood said there are lots of low-calorie diets owners can couple with exercise to help their pet lose weight. The average small dog losing weight would need to lose a half pound a week, and a large dog would need to lose about a pound.

Diets are available at the Northside Animal Hospital, at grocery stores and with all major dog food companies, Youngblood said.

Some owners may be resistant to putting their pets on a diet. Krista Mifflin, author of Dogs Guide at About.com, said several smaller portions in intervals is ideal, so pets will burn the calories over the course of the day.

Youngblood feels the key is to stay active. &8220;I&8217;ve said it before and I&8217;ll say it again, exercise is good for everybody and every pet,&8221; Youngblood said.