The dog’s name fit him just right — Whopper.

The Akita-mix tipped the scales at about 185 pounds — nearly 100 pounds over his ideal weight — when his owners turned him in to the Nebraska Humane Society a few years back. 

"He was a big boy,’’ said Pam Wiese, spokeswoman for the society.

Whopper has since trimmed down to a healthy size. The family who adopted Whopper helped him get down to 90 pounds. But not all dogs have weight-loss success stories. 

A new report highlights the problem of overweight pets, and Nebraska definitely has its share of butterballs. The state placed second for its percentage of both overweight dogs and cats. The report said 39 percent of dogs and 43 percent of cats in the state are overweight or obese.

Iowa landed in third place for big cats, though they didn't make the top 10 for chunky dogs.

The report is based on the physiques of more than 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats in the United States. 

Wiese said part of the problem is owners slipping pets table food, like chunks of cheeseburgers or a slice of pizza. All those snacks turn pets into candidates for "The Biggest Loser."

Owners also go too far rewarding good behavior with treats.

Want to reward your dog for getting off the couch?

Just give him a treat the size of a pencil eraser instead of the whole thing.

Dr. Fred Petersen of Omaha’s Westgate Animal Clinic agreed that too many treats are a problem.

"If they are getting three or four a day, when they should be getting one every few days, it adds up over time,’’ he said.

Cats can also balloon up.

Wiese said that earlier this year owners turned in a tubby cat weighing 27 pounds, more than double a healthy weight.

"It looked like a basketball,’’ she said. "It was a huge kitty."

Surprisingly, fat cats get adopted faster than trim ones, she said — some people think beefy cats are cute.

But overweight cats and dogs face health problems. More than 20 common pet diseases, including diabetes and arthritis, are linked to obesity.

Plump cats even have trouble grooming themselves, because their tummies are so big, they can't reach everywhere with their tongues, leading to parasites and skin infections.

Carol Uebner of Omaha knows that cats can gain weight in a hurry.

About 15 years ago she adopted an underweight cat from the Nebraska Humane Society, and within about three months he weighed 17 pounds, about four pound overweight.

Her veterinarian put the cat on a prescription diet, and it took about a year to get the him down to a healthy weight, said Uebner, who volunteers at the Humane Society.

She now has two cats and a dog and keeps them all at a good weight, partly by never giving them table scraps.

The animals in the new national report were all seen in 2016 at one of the 975 veterinary hospitals run by Banfield, a chain that operates in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Overall, 1 in 3 of those dogs and cats were overweight or obese, based on scores the hospitals’ veterinarians assigned to animals after a visual and physical examination. They want to be able to see pets’ waistlines and feel their ribs (but not see them, because that would mean a dog or cat is too thin).

Not only are lots of American dogs and cats far too heavy, as a group they’re getting heavier all the time.

Banfield says it has tracked a 158 percent increase in overweight dogs over the past 10 years. The prevalence of overweight cats has shot up 169 percent.

Wiese said owners should consult with their veterinarian before helping their pet lose weight.

Petersen, Westgate Animal Clinic, said the best solution generally is to gradually reduce the pet’s food, but owners must be careful.

Overweight cats, for example, can develop liver problems if they go on a strict diet, he said.

Exercise is also key, and that includes indoor cats, who aren’t so easy to take to the dog park. Laser pointers, feather toys and food puzzles — which make cats work for their meals — can be helpful weight-loss tools.

Here are the states with the highest percentage of overweight dogs, according to Banfield's State of Pet Health Report:

Minnesota

Nebraska

Michigan

Idaho

Nevada

New Mexico

Washington

Utah

Indiana

Oregon

And here are the top 10 for cats:

Minnesota

Nebraska

Iowa

Idaho

Delaware

Michigan

Nevada

Kansas

Utah

New Mexico

This report includes material from The Washington Post.

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