‘Londoners could be shortening their pets’ lives by two years’

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Londoners could be shortening their pets’ lives by up to two years by giving them extra treats, an expert has claimed. Leading vet charity PDSA estimated 1.4 million dogs and cats across the UK piled on the pounds during lockdown, contributing to the ‘pet obesity epidemic’. The problem in London […]

Londoners could be shortening their pets’ lives by up to two years by giving them extra treats, an expert has claimed.

Leading vet charity PDSA estimated 1.4 million dogs and cats across the UK piled on the pounds during lockdown, contributing to the ‘pet obesity epidemic’.

The problem in London is greater than anywhere else in England, with ten per cent of London pet owners admitting to overfeeding their pets instead of six per cent elsewhere in the country.

And 13 per cent of Londoners admit to feeding their four-legged family members more human treats since the pandemic began, compared to seven per cent on average in England.

However, this behaviour is more damaging than some owners might believe, as giving your dog just one slice of toast and butter is equivalent to a human eating two portion of French fires, according to PDSA.



PDSA GLASGOW PERCY THE PUG AND OWNER CHLOE

PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing said: “Animals who are overweight have a much greater risk of developing health problems such as arthritis and diabetes – which can have drastic consequences, even shortening their life by up to two years.

“It is one of the biggest long-term health concerns for our pet population, because it is so commonly seen by vets and nurses, with vet professionals estimating that up to half of their pet patients they see each week are overweight.

“Worryingly, the detrimental health effects of obesity in our four-legged family members don’t appear to be well-recognised amongst owners.

“Three in ten (31 per cent) don’t agree that overweight pets are more likely to suffer from serious diseases, and 35 per cent don’t agree that they are less likely to live as long.”

Nina added: “With many owners spending more time at home with their pets since the start of the pandemic, the potential for weight gain due to increased feeding – particularly of treats – was always a concern.



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“Unfortunately, we know from previous PAW Reports that some owners struggle to recognise when their pet is overweight or obese and in need of weight loss, which is the first step towards helping them live a longer, happier life.

She added: “The good news is that it’s never too late to help them eat well, exercise and play more, and live longer.

“In most cases, simply adapting their diet, replacing treats with playtime and encouraging them to move more can make a huge difference, and are all the ingredients needed for our pets to maintain a healthy weight, essential for a happy, healthy life.”

As a result of the growing “paw-demic”, PDSA has launched the #WeighUp campaign, which is sponsored by Royal Canin.

It offers online videos and a free guide to help owners get their dog in shape.




Professor Alex German, Royal Canin Professor of Small Animal Medicine at the University of Liverpool and world-leading expert in cat and dog weight management, adds: “Pet obesity is a growing crisis that is having an impact on the long-term health and happiness of the UK’s pets.

“Both experience and research show that carrying excess weight can have huge health implications, including associations with shorter life expectancy.

“PDSA’s #WeighUp guide is an invaluable tool to help empower owners to identify the signs of weight gain in their pet in the first place, and also take practical steps to address it.”

For further information about PDSA’s #WeighUp campaign, which is proudly sponsored by Royal Canin, and to download its free guide to help check if your pet is a healthy weight and what to do if not, visit https://pdsa.org.uk/WeighUp.

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