MedicAnimal, the UK’s largest online pet healthcare retailer, is warning pet owners to take action against pet obesity this January. Pet obesity is on the rise. A Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association’s (PFMA) 2015 report found that 73% of vets believe the problem of obesity is getting worse and pet owners are seemingly unaware of the life-limiting effects of obesity. The main cause of obesity in pets is generally too much food and too little exercise. The PDSA’s 2015 Animal Welfare (PAW) report states over 2.6 million dogs receive scraps or leftovers as their main meal and 27% of cat owners continue to rely on ‘common sense’ when deciding how much to feed their cats; the resulting obesity can reduce an animal’s lifespan by up to two years.
While the PAW report shows that 58% of the public believe that severely overweight pets should be removed from their owners, MedicAnimal highlights that the feeding problem is also due to too much love. Many pet owners give treats as a sign of affection and it can be difficult to refuse those ‘puppy-dog eyes’ begging for treats.
Andrew Bucher, co-founder and Chief Veterinary Officer at MedicAnimal, commented: “Obesity in animals carries with it a whole host of health problems. From cancer and heart disease to degenerated joints, overweight pets are more likely to suffer from a number of related diseases and will die early. We are pleased to see that this message is having an impact on UK pet owners; in January 2016, MedicAnimal has seen a clear uplift in sales of pet diet products compared to other months. With a staggering one third of the 58.4 million pets in the UK considered as obese, it is essential that we act now.
“There are a number of scientifically formulated nutritional products designed to help with healthy and safe weight reduction, but pet owners should also consult their vet first, as they will be able to provide a full health check and weight management plan suited to your animal.”
Just like with overweight humans, obesity in animals carries with it significant health issues. Pet obesity significantly increases the risk of major chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, hypertension, and heart, kidney, and respiratory disease. It can also create faster degeneration of joints, cause urinary bladder stones, and complicate anaesthetic procedures in surgery as overweight animals become less heat tolerant.