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Is Fido Getting Fat?

There's another member of the family whose waistline you need to worry about: the dog's.

A new study in the journal Veterinary Record found that one in four dogs that placed in the top five in their class in Britain's Crufts national dog show is overweight, as reported by the New York Times. In the country as a whole, about half of pet dogs are too heavy, but the findings from the dog show surprised the study's authors, since show dogs are supposed to represent the ideal specimens of a breed.

MORE: 10 Dog Breeds That Are Prone to Obesity

The study's authors analyzed 1,120 photographs of dogs representing 28 breeds that had placed at Crufts between 2001 and 2013. They determined that 26 percent of the dogs were overweight. Worth mentioning is that this distinction did vary by breed, with pugs, basset hounds and Labrador retrievers most likely to be overweight, and border terriers, boxers, Dobermans, Hungarian vizslas, standard poodles and Rhodesian Ridgebacks the least likely.

So what's the takeaway from all this?

"Preventing obesity is key," as very overweight dogs develop illnesses like diabetes and don't live as long, said Alexander German, one of the study's authors and a veterinarian who specializes in small animal internal medicine at the University of Liverpool. "Weigh out meal portions accurately so you know what you are feeding, and avoid treats, especially table scraps and human food."

MORE: Bad Treats for Dogs

German also says that if you do give your dog a treat, be sure to reduce its next meal portion to account for the extra calories. He recommends that pets be weighed every six months to monitor small changes in weight.

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Image via Twenty20/afowler2k

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