EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Experts say an obesity epidemic is affecting a vast majority of pets, and it's time for pet owners to start counting calories in their furry friends' bowls.
In light of October 9th being the National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, veterinarians say just like for people there are serious concerns about obesity in pets. The good news is they say there are many resources that owners can turn to; to make sure their pets stay fit and healthy.
“In pets that are overweight it's no different than people; it's calories in calories out,” explained Veterinarian with Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital Bob Bohacek.
He says in Eau Claire almost 80% of cats and dogs he sees are overweight, and 40 percent of those pets would be considered obese.
“We as owners tend to overfeed and over treat; and many of our pets are under exercised,” said Bohacek.
Bohacek says by giving into a pet's every wish owners are literally killing their pets with kindness.
“We're shortening their life span. We're subjecting them to whole span of problems that can develop from joint problems to diabetes.”
Cat owner Liz Kaufman says growing up she remembers pets being thinner than they are now. That's why she keeps a close eye on the weight of her two kitties.
“I want them to live long and healthy life, you know they're my kids,” smiled Kaufman.
But experts say with the ‘fat pet gap' getting wider, many owners are in denial.
“There are a lot of fat dogs out there and I feel bad for them because some of them can hardly move,” said dog owner Sharron Robertson.
Veterinarians say starting to feed animals properly when they are little is step one. As metabolism differs from pet to pet it's important to find a diet that works best for your four-legged friend.
“As pet owners we need to read that, really check into it, and really see what our pets who are like children to a lot of us are eating,” said Robertson.
And Dr. Bohacek says the improvements that are underway for pet food nutrition labels will give owners a better idea of how many calories they're feeding their pets with every bowl of food.
“I think we're all pet owners because we love pets and we love their companionship. And the healthier they are the longer they can be with us,” added Bohacek.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the number of overweight cats reached an all-time high in 2012. That unhealthy trend costs owners millions in pet health care every year.
There’s a link to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s website below.