Today, three in four vets believe pet obesity is on the rise, considering the root causes of pet weight gain to be owners not following feeding guides, treating with leftover food and insufficient exercise.
Zara Boland BVSc BE MRCVS, founder of Vet Voice said: “Overweight pets, like humans, can suffer from a myriad of health issues such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There is nothing ‘cuddly’ about an overweight pet. Obesity is a disease in itself. We must continue pushing the pet health message until overweight pets are no longer an increasing and widespread concern.”
PFMA’s ‘Pet Obesity: Five Years On’ research arrives five years after its previous report, allowing pet owners and professionals to see how the needle has moved, gauging whether Britain is winning regarding pet slimming. New findings show that although pet owners’ awareness of pet obesity has improved, cause for concern remains – while vets feel up to 45 per cent of all pets they see are overweight (45 per cent of dogs, 40 per cent of cats, 28 per cent of small furries and 15 per cent of caged birds), two in three pet owners believe their pet is the correct weight.
The vast majority of pet owners say they would be concerned to discover their pet is overweight, yet only one in three know how to check this, indicating that existing tools and guidelines are simply not getting enough cut-through.
Vets advise that causes of obesity such as treats should be fed occasionally and be taken into consideration at meal times, reducing the regular pet food ration accordingly. Whether consisting of dried, moist or a mixture of these foods, a daily diet suited to a pet’s life-stage and adhering to professional feeding guidelines is the best way to ensure pets receive optimumnutrition. Worryingly, nearly half of owners are feeding pets treats more than twice a day, unknowingly putting them at risk, with one in three pet owners using ‘human’ food as treats.
Michael Bellingham, chief executive of PFMA added: “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. To help spread the word about ideal pet weight, PFMA will launch a #GetPetsFit campaign in May this year. A host of pet experts are drawing the community of Teddington together to change its pets’ fortunes – watch this space.”