A third of British pet owners believe their pooches and moggies have piled on the pounds and fear their pet is overweight.
Concern over podgy pets has grown in the last few years, with veterinary professionals reporting an increase in levels of pet obesity. Many claim to have seen a rise in the number of overweight dogs, cats, rabbits and even small rodents being brought into surgeries for treatment.
The survey by Argos Pet Insurance has found that one in three (35 percent) people are worried that their dog or cat may weigh too much.
Some pet owners are trying to combat the problem, as a quarter of people interviewed have put their pet on a diet with the aim of reducing their weight. The same percentage of people also report working out with their animal to try and help them lose weight.
Five percent of people do feed their pet a special diet to match their own, while three per cent feed their pets a vegetarian diet. Meanwhile, just one per cent of pet owners feed their dogs or cats a vegan diet.
Rebecca Cannon, veterinary surgeon with Argos Pet Insurance, commented: “One problem may be the amount of food being given, even if the diet is good quality and balanced. Sometimes owners don’t realise their pets are overweight for their breed. Other owners may be failing to follow feeding guidelines. For example, feeding their pets on demand, when they assume them to be hungry, providing too many treats or allowing them to graze from a surplus of leftover food.”
Obese animals face similar health implications to overweight humans. Argos Pet Insurance have seen an increase in claims for obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and even certain types of cancer. As with humans, pet obesity can reduce life expectancy and quality of life.
The main causes of animal obesity are often, as you’d expect, too little exercise and too much food. However, some pets put on the pounds after neutering or due to conditions like hypothyroidism.
Rebecca added: “These figures regarding people’s fears that their pets are overweight are alarming and not to be ignored, but it is great to see some people are working to help their pets lose weight. We all want our pets to live long and happy lives, so we need pet owners to be conscientious when it comes to diet and exercise. Obesity is dangerous territory, putting pets at risk of a whole array of serious health problems.”