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Are our pets gaining weight faster than we are?

Americans spend a lot of money on their pets' health problems – some of which are tied to obesity

It's sometimes said that pets look like their owners – which is not flattering, given what one company is saying about obesity among America's pets.

Nationwide says people who have pet insurance are filing more claims for treatment of conditions associated with obesity.

In fact, the company says obesity-related claims have gone up six straight years and climbed by 23 percent in three years to a total of 1.3 million in 2015.

Big vet bills

Since the concept of pet insurance is still pretty young, it should not be all that surprising that claims are growing.

But there's no denying that Americans are spending a pile of money treating pet problems that may be caused or worsened by the extra pounds many Fidos and Fluffys are carrying.

For dogs the most common weight-related health problem is arthritis and Nationwide says the average treatment cost $295 in 2015.

Among cats the biggest weight problems were diseases of the bladder or urinary tract. Treating that typically costs a cat owner $442, Nationwide says.

What to do about it

There's a pretty long list of health problems that are tied to obesity – diabetes, kidney disease, asthma, high blood pressure, and liver problems, for example.

Just like with people, preventing these problems is a lot less expensive than treating them.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has a page with tips on how to ascertain your pet's ideal weight and how to help them get there.

Both the vets and the insurance company agree some of the top tips for helping pets lose weight are:

  • No table scraps
  • Pay attention to how much you feed them and keep it consistent
  • Be stingy with treats
  • Have a schedule for getting them some exercise

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