Takeaways and booze – charity reveals the shocking ‘treats’ fuelling the UK’s pet obesity crisis

A combination of snacks, scraps, takeaway leftovers and even booze continues to fuel a pet obesity crisis, according to leading UK vet charity, PDSA.

With new data showing that a staggering 5.5 million cats, dogs and rabbits in the UK are being fed treats every day, the charity’s vets are warning owners that they could be drastically shortening their pet’s life expectancy.

Pet obesity. Image of Maverick, a 10.2kg cat

Maverick, a long-haired cat with PDSA nurse Amanda Shearsby weighs 10.2kg. Photo PA (telegraph.co.uk)

Owners have admitted to indulging their pets by giving them fatty, sugary, and in some cases dangerous, foods.  These include cake, chocolate, biscuits, crisps, chips, takeaway and even alcohol.

On top of all these unhealthy treats, over 4 million pets (2.6 million dogs, 1.4 million cats and 12,000 rabbits) are fed table scraps or leftovers as their main meals. These diet disasters are taking their toll, according to PDSA, with a third of dogs and a quarter of cats now classed as overweight or obese.  Vet professionals predict that the problem will continue to grow – with 80% believing there will be more overweight pets than healthy ones by 2019.  Sadly, many overweight pets develop potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as debilitating conditions including arthritis as a direct result of being overweight.

PDSA Vet Vicki Larkham-Jones said: “Nearly half of the pet owners believe that obesity is the biggest threat to animal welfare in the next ten years – yet pets continue to be fed unsuitable diets which are fuelling the problem.”

60 percent of the pet owners surveyed felt that overweight pets are less happy. 88 percent believed that the extra weight gave their animals a shorter lifespan. Pet industry members, from vets to store owners, has been working hard to increase awareness, education and easy access to appropriate diets.