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Got A Portly Pup?

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Yes, this is too much food for this dog.

By Jane Geelan-Sayres for NBC DFW

Just like people, obesity can also be a problem for pets, veterinarians say.

Veterinarians at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences agree obesity in pets can become a huge problem.

“Pets become obese for the same reason people get obese; they take in more calories in a day than they burn off playing or exercising,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, of Texas A&M.

And, just like in people, that can lead to bigger health problems for pets.

“Problems with our joints and developing arthritis, metabolic problems like diabetes, heart problems, various things can occur — the same kinds of concerns that we would have,” said Stickney.

Megan Lembcke, of Dallas, said she and her family have tried everything to get one of their two labs up and moving.

“They are treated exactly the same way. We give them the same amount of food,” she said. “Jackson is just a lot more interested in running, and Abby never has been.”

Abby and Jackson have been a part of the family for years.

“My husband loves labs, so right when we got engaged, we got Jackson, and we didn’t want him to be alone, so we got Abby a few months later,” said Lembcke.

But despite their attempts to get Abby to exercise, she just isn’t interested.

“My husband was training for a marathon once, and he start running, and Abby would lay down in the middle of the sidewalk two blocks into it,” said Lembcke.

Stickney said there is a simple way to tell if your dog is tipping the scale.

“As you look down on the top of your pet,” said Stickney. “You’ll want to see a little waist. You want to see it tuck in a little bit and then flair back out at their hips, like an hourglass.”

And it’s not just about the food.

“So, when we feed our pets, we also need to keep in mind all of the extra little treats they might get during the day, because all of those extra treats have calories as well,” said Stickney.

You also have to watch treats and table scraps.

“Five percent of their daily intake in people food is going to be OK for them,” said Stickney. “If you want to give them a little scrap at the table, that’s great, but you don’t want to be brushing everyone’s dinner plate off into their bowl. That’s not going to be good for them.”

And don’t forget exercise. Setting up a routine for your animal is a lot like setting one up for yourself.

“If you’ve got a couch-potato dog, you can’t just go jogging for a mile, because that’s going to lead to and exacerbate all of the problems that are already going on — joint injuries and problems that can be intensive and expensive to fix,” said Stickney.

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