Nation's pets are becoming couch potatoes according to leading animal charity
A deadly diet of treats and table scraps, coupled with a couch-potato lifestyle, is fuelling an obesity time bomb for Scottish pets, leading vet charity PDSA has warned.
Now it is urging pet owners to ‘skip the treats and hit the streets’ to tackle the growing problem.
The charity’s call comes as it kicks off its national pet slimming contest: PDSA Pet Fit Club.
New findings from the charity’s PAW Report reveal a staggering 5.7 million UK pets (3.4 million dogs, two million cats and 260,000 rabbits) are fed treats every day. Loving but indulgent owners admitted ‘treating’ their pets to a range of dangerous foods including crisps, cake, cheese, chips and takeaways.
A further 3.9 million pets (2.4 million dogs, 1.5 million cats and 30,000 rabbits) are also fed table scraps or leftovers as their main meals, further adding to the weighty problem.
PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman said: “We love our pets and owners often enjoy showing their love by giving food. Nearly half (44%) of owners across the UK told us that they give treats because they believe it makes the pets happy, and over a quarter (27%) do it to make themselves feel good. And 13% confess to giving treats because their pets beg, puppy dog eyes are hard to resist.
“Treats and human food can be high in fat and sugars which are bad for pets’ waistlines and teeth. Some foods, like chocolate, are poisonous to pets and can even be fatal.”
Some foods, like chocolate, are poisonous to pets and can even be fatal - Rebecca Ashman
Across the UK a shocking 1.6 million dogs (17%) aren’t walked daily, some of these are never walked because their owners mistakenly believe that playing in the garden is a suitable substitute. Scottish pets fare slightly better with just 12% missing out.
To help battle the bulge PDSA is launching its twelfth 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.
“Prevention is always better than cure,” said Rebecca. “But even if pets are already overweight or obese, this can be tackled with the right diet and exercise. Over the years our Pet Fit Club competition has helped transform some of the UK’s fattest pets into fit and healthy animals,” said Rebecca.
“Owners have the ability to make a real difference to their pet’s health and happiness. PDSA is encouraging anyone concerned that their pet is overweight to enter them in Pet Fit Club.”
Chubby Charlie the flabby feline
Chubby Charlie is so big he weighs more than double the amount he should.
The ginger and white tomcat should be around 9lbs (4kg) but actually tips the scales at over 1st 8lbs (10kg).
His owner James Gordon, from Shotts, near Glasgow, admits to having overfed his flabby feline and says his beloved cat has ballooned after being fed king-size portions.
James, (66), said: “I’ve had Charlie for about seven years. He was my granddaughter’s cat and she was moving home so asked me to look after him for a bit while she settled in but he’s been here ever since!
“It’s my fault he’s the size he is as I was overfeeding him. I was giving him wet food, dry food and treats on top. I’d also sometimes give him a bit of meat off my plate if I was eating something he liked the look of.”
But the supersized portions and a lack of exercise soon took their toll with Charlie, (8), who grew so big he was unable to groom himself properly.
James added: “He wasn’t able to reach areas of his body to groom, and the fur became very matted. I took him to PDSA’s Tollcross Pet Hospital in Glasgow and they told me he that he also had a heart murmur and urgently needed to lose weight.”
The diagnosis has shocked James and he’s desperate to get his beloved companion back to a healthy weight. He said: “Charlie is really important to me so I’ve put him on a diet following advice from PDSA. “He’s mainly a house cat so doesn’t exercise very much and I worry about the strain his excess weight is putting on his heart.
"I want to do something about it.”