A vets practice in Northampton has warned of the dangers of allowing pets to eat too much after seeing a rise in the number of overweights cats and dogs.
White Cross Vets – which has 13 practices across the UK, including Northampton – saw more than 4,000 overweight pets last year and believes there are significantly more going untreated.
New research from animal charity, PDSA, also revealed that one in three dogs and one in four cats were overweight.
White Cross Vets is now urging owners to take action in order to extend the lives of their pets and help them achieve a healthy weight.
Clinic director Nishi Jani said: “It’s often a case of owners innocently overfeeding their pets through kindness.
“Most owners are aware that their pet is overweight, but the majority don’t appreciate the dangers their pets face as a result.
“However, the good news is it’s usually much easier for a pet to lose weight than a human, and making a few small changes to their habits and lifestyles can reap big rewards.”
Other statistics from the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report revealed that 80 per cent of veterinary professionals believed there will be more overweight pets than healthy weight pets within five years and that 81 per cent of vets have seen an increase in pet obesity over the last two years.
Nishi added: “The sooner a pet can lose weight the better its chances of leading a longer, healthier life.”
Overweight pets can suffer from a range of health problems including osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Obesity also causes both physical and emotional distress and reduces life expectancy.
Nishi added: “The amount of exercise needed for each dog depends on the size, breed and age, but as a general rule of thumb, between 30 to 60 minutes is what owners should be aiming for.
“Cats should play with their toys or owner for 10 to 15 minutes several times and day.”
One pet which recently lost over 4kgs is Taz, a parsons terrier from Northampton. Its owner, Dawn Dean, said: “Taz is 11 years old and as we have aged together we began to go for shorter, less frequent walks. We were also guilty of giving her tit bits and human food as treats.
“We knew she was putting on weight and when we took her to White Cross Vets to have her nails clipped, the nurse suggested we try the Hills Metabolic diet in conjunction with more regular exercise.
“She also invited us to attend regular free weight clinics.
“Taz first weighed in at 17.5kg but the weight has kept coming off at every weight check and she now weighs 13.85kg. As a result she has a new lease of life. We used to walk for about 15 minutes and I would often have to call my husband to pick us up as she wouldn’t take another step. Now we can walk for an hour and she is still keen to carry on.”
For further information, visit www.whitecrossvets.co.uk or call them on Northampton 400130.