For the second year running, vets say that obesity is the biggest health and welfare concern for the UK’s pets.
Almost two thirds of those polled for an annual British Veterinary Association (BVA) survey cited obesity as the issue they were most worried about. It’s an issue that the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association has been tackling for seven years.
“As with humans, obesity is a very series health issue for pets and can lead to lifelong and life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes and arthritis,” said a (BVA) spokesman. “Not following or understanding guidelines, providing too many treats and snacks, and a lack of exercise are all contributing issues. Many owners also give their pets human food as a treat; one biscuit can aquate to a whole packet when fed to an animal.”
A key finding in this survey points to a lack of understanding around what constitutes a healthy size.
Some vets and pet charity organisations have created a range of tools, including Pet Size-O-Meters, to help owners maximise the well-being and life expectancy of their pets. Treating with unsuitable ‘human’ foods and guesstimating portion sizes are also key factors.
The research also shows, that although there is a greater awareness of obesity and its consequences among owners, this isn’t really translating in to action and we believe a collaborative response from the pet care sector is important to address this.
Obesity is common in dogs. Gudrun Ravetz, president of the BVA, said it is vital that the correct body weight and feeding habits are established from puppyhood and that owners understand dogs must be given the right food for their age, breed and size alongside getting enough exercise.
“Using body condition, scoring allows vets and owners to assess and monitor a dog’s weight and can be applied to any breed”.