Date Published: 25 March 2015

Pet obesity increasing according to PDSA Report

UK animal charity the PDSA has recently released a report detailing the results of its recent research into animal wellbeing. The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, which is based on studies conducted during Sept-Oct 2014, suggests that approx. 80% of UK vets have seen an increase in the number of cases of pet obesity of the last two years.

Surprisingly, almost half of the 1,000 UK adults (age 16+) surveyed* were not aware of serious risks to and adverse effects on their pets' health posed by obesity.

Presumably most adults are by now aware of what constitutes obesity in humans and of the health risks of obesity in people.

One of the definitinitions of obesity taught to people following courses in diet and nutrition is:

"Obesity is defined as a person having a weight at least 20% above the recommended weight (for his or her height and gender)."

Just as excessive bodyweight often has adverse consequences for people, pets whose weight is significantly above the usual appropriate weight for the species, breed, age and gender, can also suffer adverse health issues including an increased risk of many veterinary conditions. Obesity is not a problem that only applies to people. Dogs, cats, rabbits and even rodents such as pet rats have been found to be increasingly overweight in recent years. There are many reasons for this. For example, according to the PDSA, an estimated 6 million dogs in the UK are only able to exercise outside of the home or garden for one hour per day, or less.

Nicola Martin, PDSA Head of Pet Health and Welfare, said:

" PDSA's research has shown that pet obesity is a growing problem and that too many people are continuing to feed their pets inappropriate foods including takeaways, cake, cheese and chips and sadly many pets aren't getting enough exercise.
_ Pet obesity is entirely preventable and we're trying to help owners understand that while their pets may beg for food, and giving a treat is seen as a way of showing affection, ultimately it could be killing them with kindness.
"

Statistics from the recent PAW Report:

The findings of the PDSA's recent study, conducted in conjunction with the international internet-based market research firm YouGov, include the following overall indications:

  • 89% pet owners understand that pets can suffer from obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
  • 88% pet owners understand that overweight pets have reduced life expectancy.
  • Over 5.5 million pets get treats as part of their daily diet
  • Over 2 million pet owners give treats such as dog or cat snacks because their pets beg for them
  • Dog owners are more likely than cat and rabbit owners to give unhealthy treats to their pets. 83% of dog owners give at least one of these unhealthy type of 'treat' to their dog(s), whereas the corresponding figure for cat owners is 38%.

Animal lovers might ask what can be done, and what is being done to tackle the increasing problem of pet obesity.

The PDSA has an answer to that question in the form of www.petfitclub.org.uk, a carefully planned diet and exercise programme overseen by expert vets and nurses over a six month period. The PDSA has just launched its annual (UK) Pet Fit Club competition. Owners of the UK's most overweight pets are invited to participate in the competition in order to contribute to the wellbeing and overall health of their, perhaps overindulged, animal. Although the most important consideration is the health of the individual animals, this pet weight-loss competition also helps to increase awareness of this important animal welfare issue. Photos of participants in previous years might inspire owners to apply some determination and self-discipline for the benefit of their animals.

Dr Philippa Yam, animal obesity expert at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Glasgow University, said:

" It's clear that pet obesity continues to be a major issue due to a lack of understanding about pets' welfare needs. PDSA's Pet Fit Club competition has successfully raised awareness of this serious, but entirely preventable condition and continues to help many pets year on year."

Anyone interested in this story can follow the conversation using the hashtag #PetFitClub#PetFitClub.

Source: PDSA (UK Animal Charity)
http://www.pdsa.org.uk

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