The Washington Times - March 19, 2013, 11:22AM

We’ve got chubby canines. More than half of all American dogs - 53 percent - are overweight, says a new veterinary survey. That’s about 37 million plump pooches waddling around the nation. But some are plumper than others.

“Certain breeds showed greater risk for excess weight. Veterinary healthcare providers classified 58.9 percent of Labrador retrievers and 62.7 percent of golden retrievers surveyed as overweight or obese,” the research notes.

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The slimmest? That would be German Shepherds, at 2 percent.

“In this survey, approximately 45 percent of cat and dog owners assessed their pet as having a normal body weight,” says Ernie Ward, a veterinarian who gathered the data from vet’s offices in 36 states on behalf of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

“Many pet owners are shocked when their veterinarian informs them their pet needs to lose weight. They just don’t see it,” he says, noting that obesity is the most expensive and persistent canine health problem in the nation, but the easiest to fix.

“Feed your pet less, exercise them more,” Dr. Ward advises.

He notes that pet treats are a $2 billion industry alone, and that popular dog goodies like Snausages and even Milk Bones contain sugar as a primary ingredient. They are, Dr. Ward says, “kibble crack” for dogs.

Meanwhile, fat cats are a bigger problem. The survey also found that 58 percent of Americans cats, or 43 million, are overweight.