NORTH TEXAS (KRLD) – A new study by Pfizer Animal Health shows nearly a quarter of Texas dogs are obese — a percentage that’s far higher than the national average.

Veterinarian Michael Woolley says the only effective way of getting pounds off ‘Fido’ is to stop filling the food bowl whenever it’s empty.

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“We’ve got to diet it off them and that’s an uncomfortable thing to do. They’ve got to eat less than what they’d be comfortable with,” he said.

Vets say Texas dogs are fat for the same reason people are.

“They’re just not getting the exercise they need,” Woolley said. “They’re taking in more calories than they’re expending.”

Experts at the ASPCA say dogs face many of the same problems that obese humans face, including diabetes, heart problems and arthritis.

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As with humans, Woolley said the payoff is big for your pet losing weight.

“The group that ate 30-percent less food lived, on the average, two years longer.”

Woolley said there are simple steps owners can take that will help their dogs slim down – starting with eliminating table scraps.

The ASPCA has some other recommendations for helping your pet trim down:

♦  Remove the pet from the room when the family eats.
♦  Feed your pet several small meals throughout the day.
♦  Feed all meals and treats in the pet’s bowl only.
♦  Reduce snacks or treats.
♦  Provide non-food related attention.

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Wondering if your dog is overweight? Click here to check out the Body Assessment Rating for Canines or BARC system, created by Pfizer Animal Health.