A combination of snacks, scraps, takeaway leftovers and even booze continues to fuel an obesity crisis among pets in the east, according to leading vet charity PDSA.
With new data showing that a staggering 5.5 million cats, dogs and rabbits in the UK are being fed treats every day, the charity’s vets are warning owners that they could be drastically shortening their pet’s life expectancy.
Owners have admitted to indulging their pets by giving them fatty, sugary, and in some cases dangerous, foods. These include cake, chocolate, biscuits, crisps, chips, takeaway and even alcohol.
On top of all these unhealthy treats, over 4 million pets (2.6 million dogs, 1.4 million cats and 12,000 rabbits) are fed table scraps or leftovers as their main meals.
Pets in the east fare slightly better than other parts of the UK with only 24% dogs (national average 28%) and 12% cats (national average 13%) being fed scraps.
These diet disasters are taking their toll, according to PDSA, with a third of dogs and a quarter of cats now classed as overweight or obese.
Vet professionals predict that the problem will continue to grow – with 80% believing there will be more overweight pets than healthy ones by 2019.
Sadly, many overweight pets develop potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as debilitating conditions including arthritis as a direct result of being overweight.
To help fight the flab PDSA is today launching its annual Pet Fit Club competition and is inviting owners of overweight and obese pets in the east to take part in the UK’s biggest and most successful pet slimming competition.
“Pet obesity can be tackled, and through a diet and exercise programme like Pet Fit Club we can transform fat pets into fit pets,” said PDSA Vet Vicki Larkham-Jones.
“Nearly half of pet owners believe that obesity is the biggest threat to animal welfare in the next ten years – yet pets continue to be fed unsuitable diets which is fuelling the problem.
“As well as being high in calories, food like takeaways, cake, cheese, chips and crisps are high in fat and sugars which are bad for our pets’ waistlines and teeth. Some owners even admitted to giving chocolate and even alcohol, both of which are poisonous to pets and can be fatal.
“The good news is that we can make a real difference, starting now. With the right food and regular exercise, it is easy to keep pets fit and healthy.
Pet Fit Club is a six-month diet and exercise programme.
Owners can enter their pets at www.pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub. Entry forms are also available from PDSA Pet Hospitals, Shops and Pet Hut superstores nationwide. The deadline for entries is Sunday, 6 March, 2015.
Pet obesity – The facts
* Over 5.5 million pets - more than 3.3 million dogs, 2 million cats and 168,000 rabbits - are given daily treats
* Over 4 million UK pets (dogs, cats and rabbits) are fed scraps as their main meal
* Nearly 9 million owners give their pets treats because they believe it makes their furry friend feel happy
* 88% of owners believe overweight pets have a shorter lifespan
* 60% of owners think overweight pets are less happy