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Obese Pets May Outnumber Obese Humans

New report by U.K. animal health organization

One out of every three pets in the U.K. – that’s more than 12 million – are being fed treats that are leading to obesity.

That’s the takeaway from a new study by the nation’s largest veterinary charity, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).

The report says that 50 percent of pet guardians believe that treats make their pet happy and that only two percent admitted to feeling any guilt about feeding naughty treats.

“PDSA’s report reveals some very worrying findings,” said Dr. Alex German, an animal obesity specialist at the University of Liverpool Veterinary School. “The use of inappropriate treats is particularly concerning, especially the frequency with which these are being given.”

Dogs are fed the greatest amount of junk food, with 90 percent of their guardians admitting that their six million pooches are being fed cheese, toast, crisps, biscuits, takeaways, cakes and other fatty treats. Cats are in bad shape, too, with 43 percent (five million) being given fatty treats (over five million). Rabbit diets: Rabbits have the least amount of junk foods, but there are still 430,000 bunnies eating a diet that includes toast, biscuits, cake, cheese and crisps instead of the hay, fresh greens and rabbit nuggets that they should be eating.

The number of obese pets has risen 14 percent over the last three years.

The PDSA offers the following advice to people with pets who are heading toward being overweight:

Preventing obesity is much easier than getting a pet to lose weight. A good diet when a pet is young is essential. Young overweight dogs are one and a half times more likely to become fat adults.

Watch out for the treats: feeding a pet even a small treat can significantly increase their daily calorie intake. If you give your pet a treat, perhaps for training purposes, reduce the amount given in their main meal on that day.

Diet and exercise: Weight loss requires a combination of the right diet and the right amount of exercise, so discuss an exercise programme for your pet with your vet. Build up exercise gradually, as a pet shouldn’t go from couch potato to marathon runner overnight.

Work with your veterinarian. PDSA advises pet owners to speak to their vet about the right shape for their pet. A pet’s shape gives a good indication of the amount of body fat the pet is storing. Many owners aren’t aware of what a healthy shape is for their pet.

Check out this website: PDSA offers owners advice and guidance on a correct body shape for their pet here.

Step by step: In some pets, such as cats and rabbits, weight loss must be very gradual. If these pets lose weight too quickly, it can be fatal.

What do you say? Have you had an overweight pet? Tell us your story in a comment or on Facebook.

What you can do: Check out this advice from the PDSA.