According to the Department Of People Who Think Of New Things To Worry About, we've got something new to worry about: Fat pets.
Make sure you add it to the list, right behind secondhand smoke, global warming, drought, too many calories, a growing waistline, not enough (fiber, vitamins, exercise), the Middle East, terrorists, too much cholesterol, not enough cholesterol, UV rays, J-Lo and Ben, blah, blah, blah.
Recently, we were also informed that American kids are too fat.
Before that, there was the state of the fat union report saying adults are too fat.
Now it turns out even our dogs and cats are fatties.
Is it just me, or is there a pattern here?
Everything we touch turns to goo and cellulite. Have the Iraqis started to gain weight yet? The Afghans?
Together, we must ask: Where are we headed as a nation?
Straight to Chuck-A-Rama, that's where. Back to the buffet line for seconds.
It's official: We are one fat nation, under God, with pizza and spaghetti (with cheese crust) for all. The first thing we have to do is get the stripes off the flag — not a good look for fat people.
You know how dogs tend to look like their owners? We're fat, they're fat.
How do you tell if your pet is too fat, you're wondering? Take this quiz and find out:
1. Do house guests often mistake your dog for an ottoman?
2. Which best describes your dog/cat's build: a) a barrel on toothpicks; b) bovine; c) Warren Sapp; d) Hindenburg.
3. At dinnertime, is your pet a) under the table; b) sitting quietly in a corner across the room; c) on the table, c) sitting in a chair with his face in the potatoes.
4. When you play fetch with your dog, does he have to stop and rest a few times before he reaches the ball? Do you have time to go in the house and eat dinner before he actually returns with the ball?
5. What is the most strenuous thing your cat does? a) catch birds; b) chase the neighbor's dog; c) blink; d) meow.
6. Does your pet's tummy drag on the ground when he walks? Does he/she ever get high-centered?
7. Can your dog or cat roll over on its back and then right itself without help?
8. Has your pet acquired any nicknames such as "Belches," "Porky," "Dom Deluise," "Atkins," "Garfield?"
The Washington, D.C.-based National Research Council wrote a 500-page report on the state of our pets. (Five hundred pages? Who wrote it this thing, Tom Clancy?) The report concludes that 25 percent of the dogs and cats in the Western world are fat — that's one out of four.
Pet obesity can lead to liver disease, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, joint and back problems — the usual suspects — and can dramatically decrease the life span of your pet (this may or not be an incentive to some pet owners).
Veterinarians immediately announced that we should take "Porky" out for exercise, watch what he eats, and limit his between-meal snacks and time spent in front of the TV playing video games.
What are they talking about?! If we could do all that, we wouldn't be fat.
We can't even make ourselves exercise and cut back on the meals. How are we going to make sure the dog does it?
See if you can follow this logic: If the owner is fat and sedentary, then so is the dog. If the owner isn't getting exercise, the dog isn't either. How many times have you seen Fido jogging laps around the yard and doing pushups?
So you're back to where you started: You've got to exercise and watch what you eat — and take the dog and kids with you.
Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesdays. E-mail email@example.com.