Obesity in Pets: What You Need to Know

The majority of adult dogs and cats in U.S. homes are either overweight or obese, and in 2012, the U.S. pet obesity rates continued to increase, with 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats being described as overweight by their veterinarians. Ernie Ward, the founder of The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, tells CNN, "We've made fat pets the new normal."

Dolvett Quince, currently a trainer on television reality show "Biggest Loser," partnered with Banfield Pet Hospital to address this grave problem. Together, they believe that obesity in pets has reached "epidemic levels in the United States," affecting approximately 1 in 4 dogs and cats. In an interview with Yahoo! Shine, Quince talks about symptoms, preventative measures, and introduces pet parents to a fun program that will help you and your pet stay active together.

"Biggest Loser" trainer Dolvett QuinceYahoo! Shine: How do you define obesity in pets?

Dolvett Quince: "I look at obesity in pets the same way that I look at obesity in humans. If you can't see your waistline, there is a great chance that your pet is obese; lean and trim is what we're looking for."

Shine: What are some of the symptoms of obesity that pet parents should pay attention to?

Dolvett: "Can you see your pet's waistline, just like a human being? Is there a healthy rib cage there? Most importantly, you should consult your local veterinarian. They're going to give you the exact signs to look for."

Shine: What causes obesity in pets?

Dolvett: "Some of the things that cause your pet to be overweight are table food (probably one of the number one things that you can do to get your animal out of shape), portion control, and a lack of exercise."

Shine: What are the health dangers that come with excess weight?

Dolvett: "Some of the health dangers that your pet can receive are similar to human beings, everything from arthritis to diabetes."

Shine: What are your top tips to cure obesity in a pet?

Dolvett: "Some tips to keep your pet from being overweight are very similar to humans, like being conscious of portion control and knowing that your pet needs proper nutrition to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle is the key, and with lifestyle there is movement: getting outside and exercising. Along with Banfield Pet Hospital, I have developed some cool exercise programs that you and your furry friend can do together."

Shine: Could you give examples of how different breeds have different exercise needs?

Dolvett: "Different breeds have different exercise needs based on height, age, and weight. You will want to consult your local veterinarian to see exactly what exercises would benefit your animal."

Shine: Could you explain how changing your lifestyle can help your pet in losing weight?

Dolvett: "If you're not moving, you're not losing. So if you're in motion, and you have an active lifestyle, there is a great chance that your pet will as well. You're going to want to keep moving, and you will want to come up with great ways to stay in motion."