The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) reported on Thursday that across the U.K. there is an obesity crisis among cats and dogs. The group found that fatty treats are being fed to over 10 million pets by their owners leading to approximately 2.5 million overweight canines and more than two million overweight felines. That is one in three and one in four respectfully of the pet population.
The root problem of the issue is of course the owners of the pets who the PDSA describe as “well-intentioned but misguided.” The findings revealed that 87 percent of pet owners, equal to nine out of every ten, give their pets treat. More startling is that 91 percent of those surveyed realised that obesity, resulting from the high-calorie, fatty treats, can reduce the lifespan of their pet.
The PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon Elaine Pendlebury expressed sadness at the amount of morbidly obese pets showing up in clinics everyday. She called it a silent killer cutting a pets life for up to two years and leading to significant problems in their health including diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Pendlebury called the situation tragic because there are millions of dogs and cats suffering from obesity, yet it is preventable by simply feeding our pets less treats.
The worst offenders are reported to be in Scotland with 72 percent of owners admitting to lavishing their four-legged friend with junk foods. Not far behind are Welsh pet owners at 69 percent. The best score was from London; however, the number is still quite high at 48 percent of owners over indulging their cats and dogs.
The PDSA has tackled the obesity crisis among pets in the U.K. with its annual competition Pet Fit Club. The group says the results has led to the transformation in the lives of obese pets in Britain with many of them, as they say, saved from dying as a result of their issues with their weight.
The 2014 Pet Fit Club launched on Thursday in response to their report. The reigning champion of the contest is Ruby, a Jack Russel terrier from Sunderland, who was a former stray and was spoiled with treats by her owner Angela Martin to help her bounce back from the harsh beginnings of her life.
The Jack Russel gained so much weight to a point where she was considered morbidly obese. According to the PDSA website, Martin described her best friend as being unable to jump on the bed nor practically unable to move at all except for food.
After Martin entered Ruby into the Pet Fit Club competition, she lost one-third of her bodyweight over a six-month exercise and diet programme in May 2013. The owner described her as acting like a puppy all over again, running non-stop on the beach. Ruby’s transformation can be seen in the video below.
Other past winners of the competition battling the U.K. obesity crisis, now in its ninth year, includes a dalmatian who lost 8.9 kilograms or 19 lbs. in 2006. The only cat to win the competition thus far was an Edinburgh cat who lost 17 percent of her body fat. The PDSA website has their own Hall of Fame to honor the winners. Applications for this year’s contest closes on April 27, 2014.
By Kollin Lore