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5 Reasons the Obesity Epidemic is Spreading to Animals

3. Toxins in Our Water Supply

I’ve talked about pollution in our water supply before that results from a range of toxins and pharmaceuticals. According to the New York Times, an EPA survey of 139 streams around the country revealed that 80 percent of samples contained residues of drugs like hormones, painkillers, blood pressure medicines, or antibiotics. Allison and his team found that toxins in the water supply disrupt the endocrine system of animals which can literally slow down a mammal’s metabolism.

4. Spoiling Our Pets

We tend to spoil our household pets especially if we feel guilty for leaving them alone for much of the day while we’re at work. Some pet treats contain too many calories, just like human snack foods. Some of the larger dog chews can contain as much as 600 calories, which for some dogs is more than a daily allowance of calories, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Dog treats are nutrient dense and this coupled with feeding our dogs junk food from the table makes for an overweight pup.

5. Disrupting Hibernation and Migration

Until recently, my advice to an overweight human would have been following the time honored advice of our fellow mammals and bird species: eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full and get some exercise each day. This is because animals genetically listen to their bodies more than humans. The only problem is that we’ve disrupted the habits of animals so much that even they keep getting fatter. According to the study, certain environmental factors could be affecting body-weight cycles in migrating and hibernating animals. In the wake of climate change, for example, some animals have stopped hibernating and others have shortened their seasonal migration routes. Migration routes are threatened by habitat destruction as well. I wrote over at TreeHugger that such destruction presents an acute threat to the survival prospects of the pronghorn antelope in the American west for example. Poor land use can fragment the pronghorn’s migration pattern and adversely affect the species’ natural cycles. When they don’t travel as far, they’re don’t burn as many calories.

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6 Health Benefits of Having Pets

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Health, Pets,

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Samantha, selected from Planet Green

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, and, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.


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12:46AM PDT on Mar 19, 2013

The name of this list is misleading. 3 reasons are correct, 2 have no reason for being here. All of these reasons are alarming for the health of animals. However, I'd be more concerned with the increase in incidence of cancers in the animals most affected by numbers three and five, than worried about their obesity.

I would want to know ANY specific data that says otherwise.

11:24PM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

I don't understand how someone could let their child (animal or human) become very overweight or obese. If someone is starving their child it is considered cruelty and neglect yet if someone over feeds their child and lets them sit around and not exercise (once again this is for human or animal child) and yet that is not considered cruelty and neglect!? Either way you are killing your child!

5:46PM PST on Jan 20, 2011

thank you.

7:38PM PST on Dec 29, 2010

Interesting. Of our three cats only one is chubby, and he is the most mellow as well.

3:43PM PST on Dec 29, 2010

too much food and lack of exercise, same reason humans are getting fatter

1:32AM PST on Dec 28, 2010

My great grandparents built their own farm by hand. They also used to have dogs, none of the family were overweight. Until now, of course. I think we need to adopt the philosophy of work hard, play hard. We don't do farming like they used to. We now have office jobs and what not. Without the extra workout, we can't eat like farmers and not expect to get fat. Just remember, depending on your body type, if you exercise or not, what you do for a living, etc, all depends on what you can/can't eat.

With the prepackaged food along with processed food, comes the problem also, because they're not made to be nutritious, they're made to be convenient. Eat real food. The process of cooking can help you lose weight because you're working for it. Plus it's healthier and tastier.

6:22PM PST on Dec 27, 2010

It's because of stupid sedentary humans that animals get fat because, some don't have time to walk them outside...

5:39PM PST on Dec 27, 2010

Thanx good article facts

11:58PM PST on Dec 26, 2010

All of this makes perfect sense. My dogs are not obese, because they walk with us down the cliffs to the dog beach, hike with us, chase tennis balls, and nonstop romp with each other.

Some of my cats are obese, but surprisingly only the ones that are NOT content to remain indoors only. The semi-feral, outdoors only kitties are all slim, the indoors only are normal, but of the 3 indoor kitties who insist on slipping out whenever we let down our guard, 2 are obese.

I hate letting any cats outside, especially friendly ones who do not disappear at the first whiff of an unfamiliar person. Look at all of the petitions and stories on care2 alone targeting freaks who like to torture cats (usually on youtube, SICKO PERVERTS).

I appreciate the information, but please be careful. Your comment about indoor only cats obesity might induce some people to let their (formerly indoor only) cats go outdoors. This might help their obesity, but it certainly won't help their longevity if they are hit by a car, or grabbed by a sadist with ulterior motives.

8:17PM PST on Dec 26, 2010

no surprise....but i do need to get up and get busy...means less time for care2...

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