Is Fluffy or Fido looking a bit tubby? America’s family pets are suffering from an obesity epidemic, which is causing big health problems including a rise in osteoarthritis.

More than half of all cats and dogs are overweight or obese, according to recent figures from the Association of Pet Obesity and Prevention.

Overweight pets have become the new normal, said veterinarian Tony Buffington, professor emeritus at Ohio State University’s Veterinary Medical Center. Overweight or obese pets can suffer from a variety of health issues such as arthritis, bone disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing problems and cancer, Buffington said.

Osteoarthritis, a progressive and painful degenerative disease, has had a 66% increase in dogs and 150% increase in cats over the past 10 years, according to the 2019 State of Pet Health Report from Banfield Pet Hospital, a general veterinary practice with more than 1,000 hospitals in 42 states.

Osteoarthritis pain can keep pets from being active, lead to weight gain and worsen joint condition. The survey found 52% of dogs and 41% of cats with osteoarthritis are also overweight or obese.

Instead of focusing on a number on a scale, take a good look at your pet’s body shape to determine healthy weight, Buffington said. From above, look down at your pet, then take a look from the side.

“It’s difficult to weigh a pet on a scale, but you pet your pet all the time. If you can see the ribs, they’re too skinny. If you can’t really see the ribs but can easily feel them, that’s about just right. If you have to push your hands in to feel the ribs, they weigh too much,” Buffington said.

Just as for people, exercise plus a nutritious diet helps keep pets healthy. Follow feeding guidelines on pet food labels and limit treats and table scraps.

Get your pet moving. Dogs should get about 30 minutes of exercise five times a week, Buffington said. Take them for walks. Play fetch or tug-of-war. Give them social opportunities at the dog park, introduce them to a sport like canine freestyle, or enroll them in specialized training.

For cats, find out what their preferences are such as furry mice, feathered wands or laser pointers. Try to play with them 10 to 15 minutes a day, Buffington said.

Use food puzzle toys, which are sturdy containers that hold food and make pets work for it.

Limit the treats. “If you’re regularly feeding your pet treats between meals, it’s not a treat. It’s a snack,” Buffington said. All those calories add up to extra weight.

Family Movie Night

“Ask the Storybots”

Rated: TV-Y

Length: 30 minutes per episode

Synopsis: The third season of “Ask the Storybots,” in which five inquisitive little creatures track down the answers to kids’ biggest questions, is now out on Netflix. This Emmy-winning series condenses big issues like why night happens and why we need to brush our teeth into simple, bite-sized episodes for the little ones.

Book Report

“Cape”

Ages: 8-12 years

Pages: 336

Synopsis: Josie O’Malley does a lot to help out Mam after her father goes to fight the Nazis, but she wishes she could do more — like all those caped heroes who now seem to have disappeared. She gets her wish in this action-packed, comic-inspired adventure about a brilliant girl puzzler who discovers she’s part of a superhero team.

— Simon & Schuster

Did You Know

There’s a new free mobile app to keep senior family members safe and connected. Safe365 uses GPS technology so family members always know where their loved ones are. Plus, there’s an emergency button, automatic notifications when a family member enters or leaves a certain area, and a social aspect with features like photo sharing and a scrolling social feed. Designed as a safety locator for the elderly, the app can be adapted for use with children. Visit Safe365.com.

— More Content Now