(CBS) An estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese.
And there are fitness plans out there to help get your pets in shape.
Seven year old Jack was out of breath and overweight. The super-sized spaniel was so big that he could barely move when Mac and Rose Welch adopted him.
“He couldn't close his legs, he couldn't close his legs at all, they were that wide apart,” Mac says.
The Welch family signed up their dog, who they nicknamed 'Jumbo Jack', for a pet fit club.
With more than a third of dogs overweight or obese, the group is helping pets transform their bodies as part of a six month fitness program.
Veterinarians say just like people, obese pets are more likely to have heart problems, diabetes and other complications.
Veterinarian Elaine Pendelbury says you should be able to feel the animal’s ribs through their skin.
“The ideal shape is to have the waist coming up like this, a svelt appearance,” Elaine Pendelbury says. She says one of the biggest mistakes people make is over feeding their pets. “It’s ideal if you are a couch potato because it's like: one biscuit for me a biscuit for the dog, that kind of thing but when you think about it the calorific requirement for the dog is very much smaller than ours.”
Vets say one human treat alone can give a cat or dog a quarter of the calories it needs in a whole day.
Jack's measurements and weight are taken each month. Ten months after starting the fitness plan he has lost nearly half his body weight. He was even crowned champion of the program's diet competition.
Vets say obese pets tend to die two years sooner than healthy animals. So be sure to set some fitness goals for your furry friend.
For more information, go to http://www.hillspet.com/weight-management/pet-exercise.html