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Some websites glorify fat pets, and make a virtue out of their cuddliness and cuteness.
To make things worse, we're effectively killing our pets with kindness.
We leave them lazing in the house and feed them with tit-bits and treats.
There are no shortcuts to getting your pet's weight down - you have to be cruel to be kind.
"The commitment and effort involved is something owners have to be prepared to put in," says vet xx.
"It's not something you can enter into lightly - it is a big commitment."
Kell from Nottinghamshire is the world's heaviest dog, weighing in at an incredible 20 stone.
She's "a big boned dog, just a natural giant. She's got a big frame and big bones," says her owner.
But being big boned isn't an excuse for most of our paunchy pets.
Inside Out spent 12 months with two portly pets whose owners were determined to help their animals slim down.
Henry from Hucknall is a chocolate-coloured Labrador who has been piling on the pounds since he was a puppy.
According to his owner he eats too many tit bits - Henry has become a canine dustbin.
"Everyone feeds him, that's the trouble. There's four children in the house and everyone, when they've finished their dinners, if there's anything left on their plates, it goes straight into Henry's bowl."
Chezray is a flabby feline from Belper who has ballooned into an enormous animal. This heavyweight cat has got into bad habits.
Her lack of exercise and lack of desire to be active have combined to create one fat cat.
Chezray is also a neutered moggie, something which can make male cats predisposed to weight gain.
Fit as a feline
Luckily the two owners of our overweight pets are determined their animals are going to fight the flab.
A year ago our fat feline and chunky canine went for their very first weigh-in, and it wasn't a pretty sight.
Vet Andrew Wilson is concerned that Henry is storing up problems for the future.
"The big problem is his joints. They'll go arthritic very quickly if we don't get the weight off. I wouldn't be surprised if there is some already."
Both animals are put on special diets and fitness regimes.
Henry takes to the water with some hydrotherapy designed to provide a full body work-out without putting strain on his joints.
Cheznay shows little interest in her exercise regime, preferring to sit around.
She's also getting grumpy after her food rations were cut back - and she's taken to bullying her fellow felines.
It's now been nearly a year since the initial weigh-in so have Henry and Chezray managed to lose any of those extra pounds?
For the two paunchy pets it's been a tough year and their dieting hasn't gone well.
While both animals lost weight during the programme, most of it has gradually crept back on.
Their owners are naturally disappointed but accept that it's tough to keep on top of the weight problem.
Vet Andrew Wilson says that there's no quick-fix to the obesity issue:
Education is also key in improving our pet care and reducing obesity.
The RSPCA are so worried by the increase in pet obesity that they're trying to tackle the problem at a very early stage.
They've introduced sessions in Nottinghamshire schools aimed at children, who are often guilty of over feeding their animals.
The RSPCA stress that pets need good nutrition and exercise, as Sophie Wilkinson explains:
"They need to know that animals are different from human beings. They need more exercise and they need different sorts of foods."
Fit not fat
So what should pet owners be doing to get on top of this weighty issue?
A good starting point is to establish whether your pet is overweight or not.
The Pet Health Council recommends the following action:
* check the ideal weight for your pet with your vet;
Vets recommend exercise and a balanced diet as the best way to keep pets healthy.
There are many ways that owners can prevent excessive weight gain in their pets including:
Some pet food companies are starting to introduce low calorie pet food whilst there's also a pet slimmer of the year competition.
Remember that dog walking can improve the fitness levels of owners too!
And weight is not just a problem for cats and dogs - guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits and other small animals also need regular exercise.
Battle of the bulge
Pets are a bit like humans in that any changes need to be introduced gradually.
It is dangerous to put pets on crash diets. Introduce changes gradually and ask your vet about special low calorie feeding plan.
If your pet has not been taking much exercise, introduce increased walks and activity over time.
Regular weight checks, a balanced diet and exercise can drastically improve the health of your pet.
So with up to 50% of our pets overweight, it's clear that drastic action is needed to tackle the problem.
The consolation for pet owners in the East Midlands is that they are not alone as they continue to battle the bulge.