SALINAS, Calif. (KION) If you've noticed your pet gaining weight during the pandemic… you may not be alone.
Pets, in general, are getting pudgier, but more specifically dogs are putting on the pounds.
"We're seeing an epidemic of obesity in our dogs," says Dr. Ryan Bethencourt, the CEO of Wild Earth.
The most recent statistics from the American Kennel Club classify 56% of dogs in the US as overweight or obese.
When asked if there was any correlation between people being stuck at home with their dogs and feeding them more treats, Bethencourt responded, "I think that's probably the case, but even before the pandemic, we were seeing obesity rates in dogs of nearly 50%."
The increase is attributed to a number of factors including a lack of exercise, too much food, and a changing attitude towards our pets.
While porky pets may look cute, the extra fat can cause life-threatening conditions.
"What we're seeing is that people are unfortunately not able to cope with their dogs being diabetic and then they're going to the shelters… unfortunately shelters can't take care of these diabetic dogs and then they're put down," says Bethencourt.
Doctors see other diseases linked to dogs being overweight… including hyperthyroidism or arthritis
As a general guide while looking at your pet from above, doctors say you should see a distinct tuck at your dog or cat's waist. From the side, you should be able to easily feel -- but not see -- the ribs.
"If you find out your dog is overweight, there are many things you can do -- obviously diet and exercise -- just like us. incredibly important," said Bethencourt.
As dogs come in many shapes in sizes it's also recommended to talk with a vet or a nutritionist about what next steps would be best for your furry family member.