“Show me your friends and I’ll show you who you’ll become” is a proverb often quoted. Unfortunately, this truth also applies to Man’s Best Friend. Americans are increasingly struggling against the battle of the bulge, and it’s not just humans being afflicted. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 52.5 percent of dogs were overweight or obese as determined by veterinarians in their 2012 survey.

Not only are our pets mirroring our weight gain, but they are also inheriting the associated health disorders that accompany increased weight including  diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and many cancers. Veterinarians and pet insurance companies are raising the alarm that a portly pup may seem cute, but the cost of the associated medical problems are no laughing matter.

The bite of being bulky

The average cost of care for a diabetic dog, according to one blogger, is about $125 a month for testing supplies, insulin, and special foods. That doesn’t include veterinary office visits which are required once every three months to monitor the condition. And this is just one obesity-related medical problem. Torn ligament  and arthritis treatments due to heavier frames average around $2,000 a year.

Pet food companies are also responding to this growing health epidemic with new formulas designed to help pets feel fuller so there is less begging. Natural Balance Pet Foods has also added informational resources to their website to educate pet parents about the causes of excess weight issues:

“Obesity develops when energy intake, calories, consistently exceeds daily energy expenditure.  Undoubtedly there are numerous environmental and social factors that contribute to the formation of obesity.  These include decreased daily exercise as a result of confinement to the house and overfeeding. Snacks and treats often contribute to excess daily caloric intake.”

It’s not easy being lean

Before you decide to start an aggressive exercise or dieting campaign with your portly pup, be aware that getting in shape can be risky without veterinary supervision. Exercise and dietary changes need to be introduced gradually to prevent ligament tears in joints that are already stressed, as well as minimizing gastric distress. Natural Balance offers tips for changing your dog’s diet as well as research-based weight loss formulas designed to give you and your dog the tools for success.

Who knows? Helping our pets live a healthier lifestyle may be just the boost to inspire our own journey towards health as well.

Dog Files is a part of the Natural Balance Insider Program. As always, the Dog Files only shares news for things we support.