Vet charity PDSA is appealing for Scotland’s fattest pets to enrol in a national pet slimming competition.
The call comes as stats reveal up to half of UK pets (46% of dogs, 34% of cats and 30% of rabbits) are believed to be overweight or obese.
The charity’s vets are warning owners that overfeeding and not providing enough exercise is driving an obesity epidemic among our four legged friends, which is risking their long-term health and happiness.
To help tackle the problem, they are searching for the UK’s podgiest pets to take part in this year’s PDSA Pet Fit Club – the UK’s top pet slimming competition.
Now in its 14th year, the contest has helped 137 overweight pets (that’s 85 dogs, 42 cats, 8 rabbits and 2 rats) lose an incredible 75 stone – equivalent to 1,190 cans of dog food. In 2018, Chester the cat from East Lothian shed an amazing 17% of his body weight, while Elvis from Clydebank, also lost 14%.
Owners can enter their pets in Pet Fit Club here.
PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: ‘Obesity has been a huge problem among UK pets for a number of years and sadly there is no sign of improvement. It is one of the biggest long-term health concerns for our pet population, because it is so commonly seen by vets and nurses.
‘Animals who are overweight have a much greater risk of developing health problems such as arthritis and diabetes – which can have drastic consequences.
‘Excess weight can also seriously aggravate other medical problems, for example making it even more difficult for flat-faced breeds like Pugs and French Bulldogs to breathe. Research has also shown that carrying too much weight can even reduce a dog’s life expectancy by up to 2 years and 6 months.
‘It’s well known that we are a nation of animal lovers,’ continues Olivia, ‘but unfortunately a lot of pet owners are showing this love and affection using food. But this way of ‘treating’ your best friend can be bad for their health in the long run.
‘Pets don’t need human food, in fact a lot of it can be very bad for them. They should be fed a complete pet food suitable for their age and weight, with occasional healthy treats. Our pets also need regular, varied exercise, suitable for their health and to keep their minds stimulated.
‘A much healthier way to spoil a pet is to spend time with them, like taking them for an extra walk, buying them a new toy or giving them more playtime.’
Pet Obesity, the facts:
– Vets and vet nurses estimate that up to half of UK pets ( 46% of dogs, 34% of cats and 30% of rabbits )* that they see in their practice every week are overweight or obese.
– 4 million (2.4 million dogs, 1.5 million cats and 30,000 rabbits) are fed table scraps or leftovers as one of their main types of food.
– 80% owners stated their dog was an ideal weight, but 40% didn’t know their actual weight or body condition score.
– 74% owners stated their cat was an ideal weight, but 65% didn’t know their actual weight or body condition score.
– 83% owners stated their rabbit was an ideal weight, but 77% didn’t know their actual weight or body condition score.
– Vet professionals estimated that 47% of overweight and obese dogs seen have health issues which could be related to weight.
– 34% of vet professionals felt the number of overweight or obese cats they see in their practise has increased over the last two years.
– Inappropriate diet is the most common rabbit health concern amongst veterinary professionals.
– 5.5 million UK pets (3.3 million dogs, 2.1 million cats and 140,000 rabbits) are fed treats (including crisps, cake, cheese, chips, takeaways and chocolate) every day.
– 41% cat owners feed treats because they believe food makes them happy.
– 12% rabbit owners feed treats because they feel guilty about leaving them alone.
– 89,000 dogs are never walked.
– In a 24 hour period, on average rabbits spend 12 hours in their hutch.
– 4% of cats (440,000) have no opportunities to exercise every day.
Owners can find out more and apply online by clicking here or by calling the Pet Fit Club team on 01952 797246. The closing date is Sunday 3 March 2019.