The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association has today released new data in its Obesity Report, highlighting that an alarming 51% of dogs, 44% of cats and 29% of small mammals are overweight or obese.
The report also says that all vets are concerned about pet obesity.
Despite this, research among 8,000 households shows that the majority of owners are unaware of the problem – 68% of pet owners think their pet is exactly the right weight, and 67% admit they are not worried about pet obesity.
With almost 8.5m pets in the UK currently overweight, the last five years has seen a worrying increase and today, almost 600,000 more UK pets are overweight or obese and at risk of living two years less than a healthy, fit pet.
To emphasise the seriousness of the current situation, these latest findings will be the subject of a gathering of MPs and animal welfare experts at a session in the House of Commons today.
Nicole Paley, deputy chief executive of the PFMA, said: “Pet obesity is a serious condition, which is now recognised as a disease among many health organisations.
“Over the last 10 years, we are proud to have helped communicate the importance of healthy nutrition and dangers of obesity to pet professionals and owners. However, the message is not getting through to pet owners, and we need to do more.”
With one in five children aged 10-11 classified as obese, many argue that the increase in pet obesity mirrors this trend. Unfortunately, this lifestyle at the other end of the leash has had a significant impact on pet feeding habits and pet health. Moreover, overweight pets are incorrectly being perceived as normal.
PFMA research also analysed professional and pet owners’ insight on why pets are obese. Most revealing is the significant mismatch between the views with 98% of vets but only 41% of owners thinking excessive treating contributed most to obesity.
Surprisingly, only 23% of owners admit to feeding scraps. With regards to fitness, 80% of vets think that a lack of exercise contributes to obesity while only 44% of owners shared this view.
Junior vice president of the British Veterinary Association Daniella Dos Santos said: “Obesity ranks as one of the top pet health and welfare concerns for vets, and this important report comes at a time when more and more veterinary practices are seeing overweight or obese animals coming through their doors with weight-related problems like musculoskeletal conditions, breathing issues and diabetes.
“Pets are an important part of the family and while many owners show love for their pet through food, this is often a case of killing them with kindness.
“Prevention is better than cure, which is why we would encourage owners to seek advice from their vet on proper nutrition, exercise and how to recognise healthy body condition.”
The report ‘Pet Obesity Ten Years On’, PFMA’s third report in ten years, details the findings from the vet and owner surveys, discusses why the UK is struggling to beat the obesity epidemic and looks at potential solutions to help owners keep their pets fit and healthy.
To view all the latest PFMA research and read the PFMA Obesity Report please visit www.pfma.org.uk