(NEW YORK) — Perhaps the government should consider an Animals Affordable Care Act.

According to USA Today, pets are less healthy today than several years ago, chiefly because Americans are either wary of the cost of treating their dogs and cats or are just afraid to bring them to the vet.

Preventative care is just as important for pets but owners don’t seem to be getting the message with dogs 37 percent more obese or overweight than six or seven years ago.  For cats, it’s up to a staggering 90 percent.

Having fat pets leads to more cases of diabetes among dogs.  Vets are also seeing more dog and cats with arthritis, thyroid and kidney disease and flea infestation.

That is, when people bring their pets to the vet. The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that dog visits have dropped by more than 20 percent since 2001 while cat owners have cut back by 30 percent.

Perhaps more distressing, emergency visits to the vet have gone up, an indication that people are waiting until it’s absolutely necessary for medical attention.

This avoidance of preventative care has led to a $5.5 million public awareness campaign by Partners for Healthy Pets that stresses the importance of regular check-ups for dogs and cats.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio