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Six-million fat pets in UK

MORE than six million cats and dogs - nearly four in ten - are overweight in Britain.

To combat the problem, eight out of ten vets now operate special clinics for tubby pets.

The new ‘pet fat clubs’ are soon expected to be oversubscribed as 31 per cent of dog and cat owners admit their pet puts on weight over the festive period.

Nearly six in ten pet owners even admitted they went as far as preparing a special Christmas meal for their over-indulged animals, according to a survey of veterinary surgeons.

Experts fear fat pets will have shorter life spans than those at the ideal weight.

Overweight cats and dogs are more susceptible to complaints such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.

The research, commissioned by insurance giants Halifax, also showed that four in five dogs did not get enough exercise during 2006.

Vicky Watson, of Halifax Pet Insurance, said: “Owners concerned about their animal’s weight should visit their local vet who can deliver specialist dietary advice.

“The rise in the number of specialist weight loss programmes for pets shows the need for better education.”

Owners should act if their pet is 15 per cent heavier than its ideal weight.