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UK pets still obese - survey

AS THOUGH we needed telling – again – last month saw the release of yet another survey telling us the astonish fact that around a third of the UK’s dogs and cats are so far overweight as to be termed obese.

Pet insurer Sainsbury’s Bank estimates that 2.72 million dogs and 2.87 million cats are suffering from obesity. This amounts to 34% of the UK’s combined cat and dog population. The company has also come up with some revealing figures about the amount of pet food we buy.

According to a research study carried out by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, some 81% of animal physiotherapists think obesity is the number one health danger for dogs. Almost two-thirds of the physiotherapists believe the main causes of the rise in canine obesity are lack of exercise and overfeeding.

Claire Moyles, Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance Manager said: ‘Many pet owners may like to treat their animals with food and snacks intended for human consumption, but they must be aware of the detrimental effect this can have on their pet’s health. Treats such as chocolate can not only lead to obesity but also when ingested in large amounts can even have serious effects on an animal’s pancreas and heart.

‘Overfed, obese animals often suffer from diabetes, osteoarthritis and other conditions that require a long-term course of veterinary treatment and their life expectancy can also be reduced dramatically.

‘Owners concerned about their pets’ weight should consider feeding their animals from the growing range of nutritionally balanced, low-calorie, organic or additive and preservative free pet foods.’

Pet Food Bill

Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance estimates that 422,800 dog owners and 202,100 cat owners spend around £516 a year on pet food for a single animal, the equivalent of either 1,613 pouches of dog food or four a day, and 2,345 pouches of cat food or six a day.

The average annual amount of money spent on feeding a dog is £209, the equivalent of 653 pouches or 550 cans of dog food. For a cat, it is £167, the equivalent of 795 pouches or 491 cans of cat food.

The ideal body weight for any animal varies dramatically according to breed, sex and age. The Pet Food Manufacturers Association, (PFMA) offers the following ways to assess whether your animal is overweight or not:

1 – Thin: ribs easily felt, backbones and hip bones visible.
2 – Underweight: ribs easily felt, waist very obvious.
3 – Ideal: ribs can just be felt, no excess fat covering, tummy tucked up when viewed from side, waist narrows after ribs.
4: Overweight: ribs can be felt but with a bit of excess fat, waist can be seen but not easily, tummy tucked up, but just.
5: Obese: ribs not easily felt, waist almost invisible, tummy may be sagging.