PDSA says the UK pet obesity crisis needs ‘urgent attention’ as vet teams estimate almost 10 millions cats and dogs are overweight.
It comes as the vet charity launches its annual ‘Big Weigh In’ campaign in a bid to tackle the growing problem head on.
PDSA, in partnership with Royal Canin, is inviting pet owners to book free weight checks at participating vet practices nationwide throughout February and March. More than 500 vet practices are signed up and pet owners can schedule their free appointment here: pdsa.org.uk/WeighUp
PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing said: “We’re all guilty of over indulging at times, but worryingly, 36% of dog owners admit to regularly giving their pet leftovers.
“And while a tasty treat now and then, when considered amidst the rest of their food intake, won’t harm your pet, regularly overfeeding them could lead to serious health problems.
“Since our Animal Wellbeing Report launched over a decade ago, overweight and obese pets have always been an issue but almost half of veterinary professionals (49%) say they’ve seen an increase in pet obesity in the last two years. And a quarter say obesity is one of the top five welfare issues in dogs.
“But with more and more people owning a pet these days, especially dogs, we’re now at a point where it needs urgent attention before it gets even worse.”
Danger of overweight pets
Overweight pets are more likely to suffer from health problems such as diabetes and urinary tract disease – symptoms tend to develop when they are younger and are harder to manage.
Excess fat can also worsen other health problems – such as arthritis and breathing difficulties – as well as increase anaesthetic and surgical risks, all of which could negatively affect your pet’s quality of life.
Dr Lauren Hayes, MRCVS, a veterinarian at Royal Canin, said: “We’re once again partnering with the PDSA on its Big Weigh In campaign to educate pet owners on the important role weight has on the overall health, and therefore happiness, of our pets.
“As well as booking an appointment, there are some simple measures that can help your pet get to a healthier weight. I would always advise using a digital scale to weigh your pet’s food, as it is surprising how easy it can be to overfeed.
“Consider swapping to low calorie treats or halving the treat to reduce caloric intake. At the appointment, you can also ask your vet about switching to a diet developed for weight loss, such as our satiety nutrition; which has been developed by experts to support safe weight loss while being high in fibre and contains the right macronutrients to keep your pet satisfied.”