CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Maybe there's some truth to the claim that dogs resemble their owners.
The obesity epidemic that's affecting Americans in general and West Virginians in particular seems to be spreading to our pets.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, American dogs and cats were living large in 2012, with a record 58.3 percent of cats, and 52.5 percent of dogs, determined to be overweight or obese.
According to APOP, a "fat gap" exists between pet owners' assessments of their animals' level of obesity and the assessments of their veterinarians. According to the survey, about 45 percent of dog and cat owners whose pets were judged to be obese by veterinarians viewed their pets as falling in the "normal" range.
Honey, does this collar make Fifi's jowls look bigger? Apparently not.
I am among guilty, in the fat pet denial department. Following recent dog checkups, we were advised to cut back on their food intake. My first reaction was to ignore the recommendation, since our mutts aren't training for the Iditarod and don't need to be particularly buff. In fact, the only tasks expected of them are to inhale, exhale and relieve themselves outdoors -- two of which they do with a high level of consistency.
But obese dogs and cats, like many of their owners, are experiencing an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and hypertension. And cutting down on their calories and upping their exercise time are the cheapest and easiest ways to keep them healthy.