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Pet Obesity Set to Soar, Warns Vet Charity

28 April 2015

UK - Four out of five veterinary professionals have seen an increase in pet obesity cases in the last two years.

That's according to findings from the latest PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report.

Obesity is the number one concern among vets when it comes to man’s best friend but worryingly, nearly half of people surveyed are not aware it’s a major issue.

This is a huge concern given that 80 per cent of vets and vet nurses believe there will be more overweight pets than healthy weight pets in five years time and PDSA is stressing the need for urgent action.

Depressingly, over six million dogs in the UK exercise outside of the home or garden for only an hour a day or less, contributing to the number of obese pets.

Obesity can contribute to pets developing deadly conditions that can cut their lifespan such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as debilitating conditions including arthritis.

To help combat the pet obesity crisis PDSA today launches its annual Pet Fit Club competition and is inviting owners of the UK’s biggest pets to apply for a chance to take part in the fat fighting contest.

Nicola Martin, PDSA Head of Pet Health and Welfare, said: “Over the past decade, Pet Fit Club has transformed the lives of some of the UK’s most obese pets, having helped nearly 100 animals shed over 60 stone so we are welcoming entries again and offering our expertise.”

Early entrants to the competition, which has been helping the nation’s pets to battle the bulge for the past ten years, include a colossal Cocker Spaniel called Millie, who is nearly twice the size she should be; and bulging black cat Boycus, who tips the scales at a whopping 10kg – double the size of your average moggie.

Sadly obesity isn’t confined to just people, cats and dogs as even rabbits and rodents like Spider the rat, who is almost double the size of an average rat, and struggles to squeeze into his sleeping quarters, are piling on the pounds.

Pet Fit Club participants will take part in a tailored diet and exercise programme, overseen by expert vets and nurses over a six month period.

Owners can enter their pets at; the deadline for entries is Sunday, 26 April, 2015.

Nicola Martin added: “PDSA’s research has shown that pet obesity is a growing problem and that too many people are continuing to feed their pets inappropriate foods including takeaways, cake, cheese and chips and sadly many pets aren’t getting enough exercise.

“Pet obesity is entirely preventable and we’re trying to help owners understand that while their pets may beg for food, and giving a treat is seen as a way of showing affection, ultimately it could be killing them with kindness.”

PDSA’s PAW Report, produced in conjunction with YouGov, provides the biggest annual insight into pet health and welfare and has highlighted some of the not-so-sweet home truths about our pets’ unhealthy habits when it comes to diet and exercise.

Pet obesity – The Facts

  • 89 per cent of owners are aware that pets can suffer from obesity-related issues such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis
  • 88 per cent of owners acknowledge that overweight pets will have a shortened life span~
  • Over 5.5 million pets get treats as part of their daily diet
  • Over 2 million owners give treats because their pets beg for them

In the dog house: Dog owners are significantly more likely than cat and rabbit owners to feed their pets unhealthy treats. And by quite a margin too – 83 per cent of dog owners feed their pets at least one of these unhealthy things, compared to 38 per cent of cat owners.

Dr Philippa Yam, leading animal obesity expert at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, said: “It’s clear that pet obesity continues to be a major issue due to a lack of understanding about pets’ welfare needs. PDSA’s Pet Fit Club competition has successfully raised awareness of this serious, but entirely preventable condition and continues to help many pets year on year.”

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