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Why are our pets piling on the pounds?

Mar 30, 2010

For a nation of animal lovers, it seems that UK pet owners don’t always act in their charges’ best interests. Vets interviewed by Sainsbury’s Finance reported that almost four in ten of their patients were overweight.

One in ten (94%) is severely overweight, while three in ten (29.8%) are heavier than recommended. This recalls parallels with Government studies that suggest more than half of all British adults are overweight, and is a sad set of statistics to open National Pet Month with.

Pet obesity is bad news for the pet, who could suffer from diabetes and heart disease as a result, not to mention bone and ligament problems as a result. But it seems it’s also bad news for owners who could be faced with bills running into thousands of pounds if their pets are diagnosed with serious health problems, says Sainsbury’s Finance.

The finance firm is clear about where the blame lies for what it describes as a ‘four-legged obesity epidemic’. Lucy Hunter, Sainsbury’s pet insurance manager, says: “The saddest thing about this research is the fact that the pets are not to blame. As is the case with humans, a lack of exercise and a poor diet, or overeating, is causing our pets’ weight to balloon. Unfortunately a lot of animals will eat everything that is put in front of them so the onus is on the owner to monitor and restrict the amount of food that their pet is consuming.”

And the charity behind National Pet Month says it’s part of responsible pet ownership to provide a nutritious and well-balanced diet. See all of its top ten tips for responsible pet ownership here.

So my questions for you are: do these findings ring true with your experience – or not? If so, just why are our pets piling on the pounds? Are we over-indulging our animals with constant treats that they don’t really want or need? If so, is this related to what appears to be our own growing inability to eat a sensible balanced diet? And are we failing to make sure they get the exercise they really need?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

One Response to “Why are our pets piling on the pounds?”

  1. Julie Says:
    Apr 6, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I think this report is a bit oversimplified in the same way that obesity in humans is.
    People feeding other people’s pets is common, whether it’s a biscuit in the park, or whole meals for cats who roam. Also, pet food items are often full of sugar which is totally unnecessary for them. Like humans, pets are often at the mercy of working lives and have no choice about having to eat convenience food, eating over-processed rubbish that passes for nutrition; ie dried food and cooked food. When their not getting the right diet, like us, their appetites soar as their bodies seek the nutrients they need.

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