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Animal Obesity A Growing Problem In The US

LOS ANGELES ( — Much like their human owners, animals have to deal with unwanted weight, too.

KCAL9's Sibila Vargas reported that animal obesity is an epidemic across the country with more than 50 percent of pets now overweight.

Natasha, who owns an adorable dog named Colonel, said she knows her furry friend has overindulged in food.

"Every time he goes up the stairs, he expects a treat. You spoil them and then you don't realize what you're doing," she said.

For the past few months, Natasha has been working with Dr. Jeff Werber, a Los Angeles veterinarian, to help her dog lose those stubborn extra pounds.

Werber said cutting calories is the key.

"If you looked at the calorie content of those treats, it would comprise probably one of their two meals. So by doing this on a daily basis, giving them 30, 40 percent more calories than they need, you can imagine what's gonna happen after a few years," he said.

To figure out if a pet is on the heavy side, Werber said, "You want to see an indentation in the waist. When you see them like a box, that's too big, it's like a coffee table. Likewise, if you can grab too much skin, it's too much. You want to be able to feel the ribs, not see them, but feel them."

Vargas offered these simple tips for owners with obese pets:

  • Talk To A Vet

The animal may have an underlying health condition that's causing the weight gain.

  • Watch Them At Meal Time

Make sure the animals only eat their own food.

  • Give Pets Healthy Treats

Apples, carrots, lean chicken and turkey are great options.

  • Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Werber recommended a 20-minute brisk walk each day for dogs.

"The bigger they are, the less they want to do. The less they do, the bigger they get. We need to overcome that by forcing them to get out there," he said.

Swimming is also a "low-impact" form of exercise that's great for overweight dogs.

Water therapist Yvonne Gast said, "It's non-weight-bearing and there's no stress on their joints. They're able to move freely in the's much easier for them to burn off the calories."

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