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Published: Apr 23, 2012

Many pet owners will give their cats and dogs treats and extra helpings of food to show they care, but this approach to feeding is not the healthiest way to show love. The New York Times reports that about half of all dogs and cats in America are overweight or obese, a number that has risen since 2010. This means the amount owners are paying to treat obesity complications like arthritis in dogs and diabetes in cats and dogs is also on the rise.

In 2011, the average annual cost of diabetes care for a dog or cat was more than $900, the news outlet reports. Owners dish out about $2,000 for arthritis and ligament tears annually, conditions also caused by the stress of extra weight on an animal's body.

In addition to the dent these conditions make in an owner's wallet, they are also extremely detrimental to the animal's overall quality of life. Although many people tend to think chubby animals are cute, they may not realize the consequences, like chronic pain or a shortened life span.

Obesity is one of the few conditions that can absolutely be prevented, and can also be successfully treated or reversed, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with portion control and exercise is key to having a healthy, happy pet.

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