It’s no big secret that Americans have a problem with obesity and maintaining a healthy diet, but it might surprise you to learn that a good percentage of us are passing those problems on to our pets.

In fact, according to a study done by Banfield Pet Hospital, America’s largest veterinary practice, 60% of cats and 56% of dogs qualify as clinically obese. Carrying extra weight puts both cats and dogs at risk for chronic health issues like osteoarthritis – inflammation and joint damage – which can make it difficult for pets to get around as they get older.

Though osteoarthritis can and does often occur as our pets age, carrying excess weight makes it worse. The condition can lead to chronic pain, and the discomfort can prevent the pet from being active… leading to more weight gain.

And the cycle continues.

Dogs tend to display symptoms like shifting their weight to one side while sitting, avoiding stairs, or losing interest in playing. In cats, you might notice them stop grooming themselves, since twisting and bending can suddenly be painful.

A special diet can help, and your vet can also prescribe anti-inflammatories and other pain medications to help offset the effects until you can help them lose weight.

Remember – even though its fun to spoil your furry friend, it’s our responsibility to make sure they live long, happy, healthy lives, so watch what you’re feeing them!