Fat pets: obesity crisis fuelled by booze, snacks and scraps


Diesel - Credit: Archant

Takeaways and booze – charity reveals the shocking ‘treats’ fuelling pet obesity crisis in the South West. PDSA warns of pet obesity crisis fuelled by bad diets.

A combination of snacks, scraps, takeaway leftovers and even booze continues to fuel an obesity crisis among pets in the South West, 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, more than four million pets (2.6 million dogs, 1.4 million cats and 12,000 rabbits) are fed table scraps or leftovers as their main meals.

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Pet treats – The facts

The number of pets fed unsuitable foods is fuelling the obesity crisis. High in sugar and fat, treats are bad for their teeth as well as their waistlines. Some of the treats owners admitting giving, including chocolate and alcohol are poisonous and can prove fatal:

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The number of dogs given alcohol was 186,000; chips: 1,023,000; crisps: 1,116,00; cake: 83,70000; human biscuits: 2,232,000; takeaway: 651,000; human chocolate: 465,000.

The number of cats given alcohol was 111,000; chips: 222,000; crisps: 666,000; cake: 333,000; human biscuits: 222,000; takeaway: 333,000; human chocolate: 222,000.

The number of rabbits given crisps was 48,000; cake: 12,000; human biscuits: 84,000; human chocolate: 12,000.

Pets in the South West fare slightly better than other parts of the UK with 26 per cent dogs (national average 28 per cent) and 13 per cent cats (same as the national average) being fed this way.

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 per cent 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 South West 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.

Vicki added: “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.

“Over the past 11 years, PDSA Pet Fit Club has helped transform the lives of some of the UK’s most obese pets.

“Through the competition we have helped over 100 animals lose more than 63 stone and encouraged thousands more owners to make positive changes to their pet’s lifestyle. Once again we are inviting owners with overweight pets to enter.”

About Pet Fit Club

Pet Fit Club is a six-month diet and exercise programme, tailored and overseen by expert PDSA vets and nurses. The charity will select up to 12 overweight dogs, cats and rabbits from across the UK to participate.

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, March 6, 2016.

PDSA Pet Fit Club was launched in 2005 and has already helped 74 dogs, 32 cats and 6 rabbits lose a total 63 stone 11lb - equivalent to more than 400 bags of sugar, 6,500 tins of tuna, 7,000 sausages or four heavyweight boxers.

Pet obesity – The facts (Data sourced from PDSA’s nationwide PetCheck tour)

• Based on estimated populations of 9.3 million dogs, 11.1 million cats and 1.2 million rabbits: more than 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 table scraps or leftovers as their main meal – 28 per cent dogs, 13 per cent cats and one per cent rabbits.

• Nearly nine million owners give their pets treats because they believe it makes their furry friend feel happy. Some 36 per cent of dogs, 18 per cent of cats and 14 per cent of rabbits receive treats on a daily basis.

• Some 88 per cent of owners believe overweight pets have a shorter lifespan.

• Some 60 per cent of owners think overweight pets are less happy.

Pet Fit Club participants will receive free diet pet food for the duration of the competition, courtesy of Dechra.

The overall Pet Fit Club Champ, who will be crowned at the end of 2016, will win a year’s free diet food and a pet friendly holiday courtesy of www.cottages.com.

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