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Animal lovers weigh in on obesity debate

A new study among 6,700 pet owners’ attitudes to animal obesity has found that nearly a third thought their pets to be overweight, but many were unaware of what measures need to be taken to prevent a pet obesity epidemic.

The findings of the study, carried out by the the PURINA Petcare Team, correlates with recent studies showing over one third (37%) of Britain’s pet cats and dogs are overweight and that more than three quarters of vets are setting up ‘fat clinics’ to tackle the problem.

We are aware of the health risks to pets and yet incredibly, almost two thirds (60%) of pet owners interviewed in the study have never fed, or even considered feeding, their cat or dog a light diet product to tackle the problem.

However, owners do recognise obesity as a growing problem with more than one out of three pet owners surveyed believing that a person should be prosecuted if his or her cat or dog is obese.

And the tide is turning in the courts too, with a landmark case last November. Brothers David and Derek Benton from Cambridgeshire were charged and prosecuted with animal cruelty for letting their nine-year-old Labrador balloon to eleven-and-a-half stone.

Mary Sharrock from PURINA comments; “Pet obesity is an increasing issue that can have a strong impact on the health and well-being of pets – as is reflected by the fact that 30% of our respondents felt that it is the most important issue facing pet care today.

The good news is most issues can usually easily be resolved with good diet, understanding the correct feeding amounts for the individual pet and exercise. Our Petcare team is ready to help any owner looking for advice on freephone 0800 212 161.”

The survey of 6,700 pet owners also revealed:

• Only one third of dog owners actually give their dog over an hour of exercise a day.

• 31% of cat owners admitted their cat was overweight compared to 23% of dog owners.

• 70% of cat and dog owners admitted that the only time their pet was weighed was at the vets.

• Dog owners are more likely to choose their dog food according to which is the most beneficial and nutritious for their pet (62%).