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Published: Apr 08, 2011

The obesity epidemic is a focal point for many government and social programs. While children and adults are often at the center of discussions on the matter, there may be one demographic that is overlooked - pets.

A recent poll conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found that around 53 percent of pet cats and 55 percent of pet dogs in the U.S. are considered obese.

"This is troubling, because it means more pets will be affected by weight-related diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease, costing pet owners millions in avoidable medical costs," said founder of APOP Dr. Ernie Ward.

A recent article in The Vancouver Sun suggests that pet parents monitor not only what their dog or cat is eating, but also the quantity of food they take in on a daily basis. Remember to take into account bread scraps, treats and biscuits in addition to their regular pet food.

Pet parents who are concerned for their pets' health should contact a VCA veterinarian for a consultation. Medical experts can help you develop an appropriate exercise plan and diet for your animal companion. Just as there is a variety of low-fat, healthful foods for humans, there are many products available that are geared to help pets lose weight and stay fit.