Saturday 24 March 2018

'Cut out the treats' - Vets face obesity crisis as 50 pc of cats and dogs are classed as over-weight

Some 50 pc of family dogs and cats are over-weight, warned the VICAS
Some 50 pc of family dogs and cats are over-weight, warned the VICAS

David Kearns

Fat cats and plump pooches may soon follow their obese owners to an early grave as vets warn that one in two family pets are overweight, largely due to over-indulging.

Snacks, leftovers and too little exercise are fuelling an obesity crisis among pets in Ireland according to the Veterinary Ireland Companion Animal Society (VICAS) – an umbrella organisation representing Irish veterinarians.

Like their owners, these plump pooches and fat cats are at a greater risk of contracting cancer, diabetes and other serious diseases, says VICAS Chair John O’Connor.

“Every day we are understanding more and more about this chronic, incurable disease and although that description may seem a little stark, managing obesity is really no different to say diabetes or asthma,” said Mr O’Connor. 

Read More: The challenge of obesity in pets and people

“By seeking advice from your vet, you will be able to very successfully manage this disease and greatly improve the quality of life and longevity of your pet.”

He added: “Thankfully it is a disease that can be treated very effectively and without great expense.”

Mr O’Connor highlighted the growing obesity pet problem during the annual VICAS conference in Galway this week.

He went on to stress that it was of vital importance that owners check that their details are correct when registering and microchipping their pet.

This follows new laws that require all puppies bought and sold in Ireland be microchipped and registered before the age of 12 weeks - or before they are moved from their birth home. 

Read More: How to tell if you have a fat cat or a podgy pooch

Mr O’Connor said that other countries have made microchipping compulsory but neglected regulating the registration with the database. 

As a result up to 50 pc of stray dogs that are found to be microchipped could not be reunited with their owner because the contact details were out of date or non-existent.

“This leads to extended upset and anxiety for the dogs and their owners and often leads to wonderful, healthy dogs or much-loved pets being put to sleep or re-homed because their owners cannot be traced,” he added.

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