It's often remarked that some people look like their pets — the carefully coiffed and dressed woman walking her manicured poodle, or the burly frowning guy getting dragged down the street by his muscular bulldog.
But aside from the occasional similarity in looks, pets and their owners may also have some deadly diseases in common.
You and your pets — both dogs and cats — can share can share many major diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
According to a 2014 survey by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, about 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are obese.
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If you're overweight, chances are your pet is too. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition
found that the rate of obesity in pets was rising in numbers similar to those of their owners. And some of their diseases, just like those of their owners, stem from obesity.
Check out the diseases that you and your pet may have in common:
Many veterinarians consider obesity to be the No. 1 health problem in cats and dogs. "Overweight animals also have certain health issues," said Dr. Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor in the department of clinical sciences, and veterinarian at the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center.
Obesity aggravates joint disease, heart conditions, and can cause Type 2 diabetes.
How can you tell if your pet is too fat? Like film actresses in the 1950s, pets should have an hourglass figure when viewed from above, and both dogs and cats should only have a thin layer of fat over their ribs with bellies that tuck up instead of being level.
Limit treats, says Nelson, and exercise your pet at least 20 to 30 minutes a day. "A pet that lies around most of the day takes very few calories to meet its daily requirements, which makes it hard to lose weight," Nelson says. "Exercise will increase its metabolic rate and burn more calories.
"Most people often find it easier to exercise a dog than a cat," she says. "Try scattering the food around in small portions throughout the house so that they have to hunt for it and get more exercise that way."
Like humans, joints in dogs and cats wear out, causing inflammation and pain. Signs of arthritis, which is common in older dogs and cats, include difficulty moving, limping, and licking and chewing at areas of the body that might be painful.
Switching to a lower-calorie pet food can help overweight pets trim a few pounds and relieve some of the stress on joints, and they usually contain added glucosamine, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, which, like in humans, are believed to help arthritic joints. Heating pads can also increase circulation in affected areas and help relieve pain.
Bumps or lumps, unexpected weight loss, loss of appetite, and frequent vomiting or diarrhea can all be signs of cancer. Like humans, the cancer treatments include medicines, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotheraphy, and chances of success depend on how advanced the disease is when treatment begins.
According to petcancerawareness.org, cancer causes about 50 percent of disease-related pet deaths. Dogs get cancer at about the same rate as humans, and although cancer is less common in cats, it tends to be more aggressive.
Up to 40 percent of dogs have chronic valvular disease (degenerative changes in heart valves), but it occurs more often in small breeds. In larger breeds, dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart chambers and thin ventricle walls) is the most common cause of heart failure.
According to WebMd, symptoms include tiring easily, coughing more than usual, and having a difficult time breathing or exercising. Advanced symptoms include weight loss, a bluish gray tongue or gum color, and a swollen belly due to fluid buildup. Taurine and carnitine are sometimes added to the diets.
Dogs and cats can also develop degenerative brain diseases.
A 2011 Australian study found that about 14 percent of dogs develop Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, which is the equivalent of dementia in humans, and 40 percent of dogs will have symptoms by age 15. Some experts believe that 68 percent of elderly dogs have some degree of dementia.
Scottish researchers found that a third of cats between the ages of 11 and 14 have symptoms of dementia, and 50 percent of those 15 and older suffer from dementia.
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