As bathing suit season approaches, you may want to take your dog for a walk or run – it not only benefits you, but it can also help your pet.

A new study by Californiabased Veterinary Pet Insurance found that America’s obesity problem and related health risks are spreading to its pets. Cardiac-arrest claims for pets have increased 47 percent the past two years, while claims for other obesity-related illnesses have been steadily increasing.

Diabetes claims are up 16 percent, and hypertension claims are up 27 percent over two years, while claims have nearly tripled for a type of spinal surgery that is obesity related. Treatment for arthritis and cancer are up sharply, which the company said is a result of animals growing older and getting fatter.

Aine McCarthy, a company spokesperson and pet health expert on the television show “Totally Pets,” estimated in a 2003 study that as many as 25 percent of pets in the Western world are obese, a problem more common in neutered animals and one that often increases with age.

As with humans, medical bills and insurance costs are getting larger along with the pets. The increase in pet obesity has not forced a rate increase, but cancer is becoming so common that the company created a cancer rider in 1994 to pay for the expensive treatments.

The good news is that 82 percent of dogs and 55 percent of their owners lost weight if they followed a shared exercise and diet program, according to a recent study by Iams Company and Bassett Healthcare.

So get your running shoes on and take Rover with you.


Tags: Training and Behavior

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