THE weight of cats and dogs across Gloucestershire is ballooning as owners are feeding them take-aways, chips and other fatty treats despite knowing it is bad for their health.
Giving pets with chocolate, biscuits and even alcohol is fuelling an animal obesity crisis and one in three dogs nationally are overweight, says a national charity.
Jason Burgess, a partner at Wood Veterinary Hospital in Quedgeley, says he sees fat animals on a daily basis and his free weight check clinic aims to tackle the problem.
He said: “We have seen some that are almost double the weight they should one cat was 12.5kg and the average is about four to five, so there are big problems.
“A biscuit for them is equivalent to us eating a burger.”
He said many of the overweight animals he has encountered suffer from conditions like heart disease, arthritis and diabetes and those which suffer from bone and joint conditions cannot walk as far.
“It is a downward spiral,” Mr Burgess said.
Research by the PDSA has found that 58 per cent of pet owners in the South West give their animals fatty treats, despite the fact that nationally more than 90 per cent realise the resulting obesity can reduce their pet’s lifespan.
Around two and a half million dogs, one in three, and more than two million cats, one in four, across the country are classed as being overweight.
Richard Aspinall, director at AAS Vets Group in Abbeydale, said this is a common problem and has stressed the need that animals should be given exercise and a balanced diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle – just like a human.
Mr Aspinall said: “Quite a lot of these are fed inappropriate things. They are peoples’ pets and they are loved and when a dog puts a head on somebody’s knees and looks up at them, they can’t resist.
“We constantly say to people, your cat or dog should have a balanced diet and obviously one that is low in calories.”
To help tackle the problem, the charity is launching the fat-fighting PDSA Pet Fit Club. Over the last eight years, it says the contest has transformed the lives of some of the country’s fattest pets.
Elaine Pendlebury, senior vet for the PDSA, said: “Morbidly obese pets is now an everyday occurrence in vet practices across the UK - it one of our biggest welfare concerns.
“It is effectively a silent killer leading to long-term health issues which can cut their lifespan by up to two years.”
Visit: PDSA healthy pet advice