A new survey of veterinarians, conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, found that 54 percent of pets in America are overweight or obese.
The survey found that 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of adult cats are considered to be overweight or obese by veterinarians - a total of 88.4 million pets.
"The most distressing finding in this year's study was the fact that more pet owners are unaware their pet is overweight," said Association for Pet Obesity Prevention founder, Dr. Ernie Ward. "In simplest terms, we've made fat pets the new normal."
Veterinarians surveyed said that 15 percent of cat owners and 22 percent of dog owners said their pets were "normal weight," even when their pet was put on the scale. Yet, the survey also found that 93 percent of pet owners say they are aware that pet obesity is a problem.
A major factor contributing to the obesity of pets is pet owners feeding commercial petfood and treats, which is often very high in calories, Ward says. According to the survey, a typical dog treat fed to a 20-pound dog is the same as a human eating two, double-stuffed fudge cookies, while feeding a pig ear to a 40-pound dog contains the same amount of calories as a human drinking six, 12-ounce cans of soda. Ward recommends that pet owners feed single-ingredient treats or fresh vegetables that are safe for animals.