Saturday 17 February 2018

Podgy pets 'facing diet disaster'

Veterinary nurse Kirsty McDougall with Bailey, a border collie weighing over 40kg
Veterinary nurse Kirsty McDougall with Bailey, a border collie weighing over 40kg

Britain is facing an epidemic of podgy pets being fed junk food, according to a leading animal charity.

Up to 12 million cats, dogs and rabbits are being given "treats" of takeaways, crisps, cheese and cakes on a daily basis which are a diet disaster for the animals, according to a massive survey of 11,000 pet owners by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).

The PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report is the largest of its kind ever to assess and measure the health and welfare standards of dogs, cats and rabbits, according to the charity.

And it claims the results show millions of pets are set to develop obesity-related, life-threatening illnesses if their diets do not improve.

Sean Wensley, PDSA senior vet, said: "With so many pets being fed inappropriate diets, the effect on their health is devastating.

"Many owners may think that their favourite treats are harmless to pets. This is not the case.

"As in humans, unsuitable diets containing lots of unhealthy food items are linked to medical conditions including diabetes, arthritis and heart disease."

According to the survey half of owners say they think fatty treats make their pet happy with just 2% confessing to feeling any guilt.

But dog obesity levels are already higher than human obesity figures. Data from the Department of Health show that a quarter of Brits are now overweight, but dog obesity currently stands at around 35%.

The survey found dogs are fed the greatest amount of junk food, with 90% of dog owners admitting that cheese, toast, crisps, biscuits, takeaways, cakes and other fatty treats form part of their dog's diet.

Press Association

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