Takeaways and booze – charity reveals the shocking ‘treats’ fuelling the UK’s pet obesity crisis
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 our pets, 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.
To help fight the flab PDSA is today launching its annual Pet Fit Club competition and is inviting owners of overweight and obese pets to take part in the UK’s biggest and most successful pet slimming competition.
- On top of all these unhealthy treats, over 4 million pets (2.6 million dogs, 1.4 million cats and 12,000 rabbits) are fed table scraps or leftovers as their main meals**.
- 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% 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.
“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.
“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, 6 March, 2015.
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 over 400 bags of sugar, 6,500 tins of tuna, 7,000 sausages or four heavyweight boxers.
Pet obesity – The facts
Pet treats – The facts
- Over 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 scraps as their main meal**
- Nearly 9 million owners give their pets treats because they believe it makes their furry friend feel happy*****
- 88% of owners believe overweight pets have a shorter lifespan
- 60% of owners think overweight pets are less happy
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:
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.
Based on estimated populations of 9.3 million dogs, 11.1 million cats and 1.2 million rabbits:
*36% of dogs, 18% of cats and 14% of rabbits receive treats on a daily basis. (9,300,000 x 36/100 = 3,348,000; 11,100,000 X 18/100 = 1,998,000; 1,200,000 X14/100 = 168,000)
**28% of dogs, 13% of cats and 1% of rabbits are fed table scraps or leftovers as part their main meal.
*** Data sourced from PDSA’s nationwide PetCheck tour
**** The survey was carried out face-to face to a sample of 1,127 veterinary professionals, including vets, vet nurses, veterinary care assistants, and vet and veterinary nursing students. Figures are not weighted. In addition, a survey was carried out online through an open link. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18 September and 10 October 2014. Total sample size was 572 veterinary professionals.
80% of veterinary professionals believe there will be more overweight pets than healthy weight pets in the five years’ time.
*****39% of dogs, 43% of cats and 36% of rabbit owners surveyed give their pets treats because they believe it makes them feel happy.