This article doesn't surprise me though. After working for two vets, equine and small animal, I've noticed a trend. Some people just think it's cute when their animals are overweight or even obese. It's sad, and in a way, cruel.
Even my own mother has two gypsy vanners that are overweight. I keep urging her to put grazing muzzles on them but she thinks they are supposed to be fat because they are drafty. Yes, they should be stockier than our other horses, but there is a difference between stocky and overweight. They should be big boned but instead, I can't find their bones!
It's also quite common for people with multiple animals to feed their animals together and have the dominant animal eating more and becoming overweight while the other stays thin.
Many Americans have similar problems with their pets as they do with themselves. Portion control and limitation of treats is important. I'll admit I find myself slipping my cat too many table scraps and treating myself to food items I don't need, just because it's available.
Some of it can be attributed to the contents of cheap food as well. Cheap food (human and animal food) tastes good, but it is also highly processed, fatty, chemically preserved and genetically modified. Fresh produce and quality pet food can be expensive and it doesn't have that greasy, salty, or sweet taste that pets and people alike love. Our market, our taste, and our own society are all setting us up for obesity.
I've always kept my dog on the "thinner", ie healthy, side and I literally could not tell you how many people have given me the, "YOU NEED TO FEED HIM, HE'S STARVING!!"
People don't even know what a healthy animal should look like anymore.
See my poor starving dog?
He's going on 13 and other than some minor arthritis, some fatty tumors (typical old Lab), and the cruciate he blew out last May running around like a darn puppy, he is doing really well. People are always amazed when I tell them how old he is because of how well he gets around. Part of it is genetic (he comes from the family line and they are long lived), but part of it is taking care of him and not allowing him to be the obese monster he would dearly love to be.
That seems to be the US's view on all animals...fatter is better. I've had many people see my dogs in the summer (they tend to put on a bit of weight during the mostly sedentary winter) that they are "too skinny, they're starving". What they don't understand is that my dogs are working dogs who frequently run 30+ miles in a day in the Texas summer heat. Canine equivalent to a track star/marathon runner basically.
It is a bit harder to see with their thick/long coats though. If they were short haired, I'd probably get a lot more comments.
Don't think most of us need a news article to know that. Just look around.
I work with animals, and I want to slap the owners every time I see a dog that's so morbidly obese that its hips are bowed out from the excess weight. Veterinarians can't help when owners don't want to listen.
I too, have had people tell me how skinny my cat is and ask me if I ever feed her.
Hm... She's probably slim because I don't feed her junk food all day long. Her lean build encourages her to stay active, which burns calories and keeps her joints and muscles healthy. She's also NOT DECLAWED. Huge pet peeve there. Ninety nine percent of obese cats I see are declawed. You wouldn't be moving around much either, if the ends of your toes were amputated.
I'm thankful that 3 of my 4 cats are naturally lean. The forth is bigger than he probably should be but he's actually the most active of my cats, especially for his age. He's 9 this year and 4-5 times a day he'll get a bug up his butt and spend 15-20 minutes doing the "I'm going to run from one end of the house to the other, skid around on the kitchen floor, bounce off the oven door or the cabinets under the sink, run into the bedroom, under the bed, bounce off the wall, over the bed, back to the living room, across the back of the couch, behind the entertainment center...then start all over again" thing. He's a goober.
I have people tell me my dogs are underweight fairly often, minus my pup who is young enough he should still have a little extra padding.
All three of my adult dogs are long-backed breeds (2 Dachshunds and a shepherd) so it's especially important to keep them on the lean side for their backs. I'd always rather my animals be a little thin than be too fat and my vet agrees.
Here's pictures of all mine, the adult shepherd is especially hard to keep weight on because she runs around constantly when she's outside, but that's fine with me!
Having worked in vet clinics and as a dog trainer, you see more pets overweight/obese than you do at a healthy weight. It's an unfortunate thing, but many owners do not want to listen about it. I will never understand why they want their pets to be butterballs.