Obese pets: Are nearly half of the UK’s pets overweight?
They may be cuddly to us, but experts claim our pets are obese. In fact, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association reports that our pets’ waistlines have expanded over the last five years and vets now class 45% of all pets as obese.
Dogs are suffering the most with almost half of the canine population being overweight.
Cats come in second place with 40% obese, while 28% of rabbits and guinea pigs are obese too.
Even 15% of pet birds were found to be overweight!
So as 77% of vets believe pet obesity is on the rise, it’s time to take action.
Research shows that obesity is causing many health issues to our animals such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory problems. Not only does this make pets’ lives painful and short, it is also costing pet owners’ money. One report states that £250 million is the amount of money owners of overweight pets must stump up.
Why are pooches getting podgy and felines getting flabby?
Well, one problem may be that two out of three pet owners believe their pets are of a normal weight and only one out of three owners know how to check if their animals are a healthy size.
Some experts blame pet food manufactures as the reason behind our overweight animals. David Jackson, an ex pet food nutritionist, has set up a website that tells you what’s really in pet food. The findings show that a number of leading brands of pet food contain salt, sugar, fats and oils as well as just 4% of chicken in apparent “meaty” dishes.
However, vets believe that the main factor contributing to pet weight gain is the type of food we give our pets. A study reveals that owners tend to feed pets “human food” and the number of people giving leftovers to their cats and dogs has increased by 28% over the past five years.
The President of the British Veterinary Association, Robin Hargreaves, said that pet obesity is “primarily a problem of human behaviour and a mismatch between the amount of food and the amount of exercise.”
How can we help our furry friends?
It is recommended that adult dogs should exercise for 30 minutes twice a day, cats need 40 minutes and rabbits need 4 hours per day. However, owners are recommended to seek advice from your vetfone service or their vets first before adopting an exercise regime that may be too strenuous.
If you need help fighting the fat with your pets then 78% of vet surgeries are now running obesity clinics to try and combat the problem and this may be something worth looking into.
You also need to change the feeding habits you’ve developed with your pet and ask yourself why you might over-feed them. Education is the key here and the Chief Executive of The Pet Food Manufactures’ Association, Michael Bellingham, says:
“All the tools are in place for pet owners and pet care professionals to better pets’ lives together – now is the time to use them. We need to engage pet owners emotionally, helping them realise that feeding and exercising their pet to optimum level can result in an extra two years of active life.”