When it comes to paunchy pooches, Michigan ranks No. 3 nationwide behind only Minnesota and Nebraska, according to a newly released study.
Michigan felines fared better — but only slightly, with the state ranking No. 6 for overweight cats, behind Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Idaho, and Delaware.
Mississippi topped all states in both categories with the fittest cats and dogs.
The Vancouver, Washington-based Banfield Pet Hospital, a nationwide chain, on Tuesday released its 2017 State of Pet Health report. It found that one in three pets that visited a Banfield hospital in 2016 was diagnosed as overweight or obese.
In the past 10 years, Banfield, which operates many clinics inside of PetSmart stores, witnessed a 169% increase in overweight cats and a 158% increase in overweight dogs, the news release stated.
Michigan pets tipped the scale in comparison to their counterparts nationwide. Dr. Kirk Breuninger, the lead researcher on the study, said 38% of dogs in Michigan were overweight, compared to 30% nationally. Thirty-nine percent of Michigan cats were overweight, compared to a 33% national average.
Breuninger said pets should not be receiving treats that make up more than 10% percent of their daily diet, and that owners should increase the activity level of pets at home.
"What we think really contributes to it is that owners are now considering pets to be more and more to be part of the family. And because of that they use food as a form of communication and to show affection," Breuninger said. "So they end up giving a lot more treats. And probably more treats than are necessary in the course of one day."
Breuninger said there's a need to individualize treatment for pets who are overweight.
"The number one thing pet owners should do is they should really partner with their veterinarians because there's not a one-size-fits-all as far as what nutrition is best for all pets," Breuninger said.
Arthritis and tracheal collapse in dogs – diseases associated with obesity – have also been trending upward over the past decade, according to the release.
“Being overweight does not simply impact how a pet looks or feels,” the release stated. “It is also associated with other chronic conditions that can have negative consequences for a pet’s overall health and quality of life.”