A combination of snacks, scraps, takeaway leftovers and even booze is fuelling an obesity crisis among pets in Scotland.
New data from the PDSA is showing that a staggering 5.5 million cats, dogs and rabbits in the UK are being fed treats every day and the charity’s vets are warning owners they could be drastically shortening their pet’s life expectancy.
Animal lovers have admitted to indulging their pets by giving them fatty, sugary and in some cases, dangerous foods. These include cake, chocolate, biscuits, crisps, chips, takeaway and even alcohol.
On top of all these unhealthy treats over four million pets (2.6 million dogs, 1.4 million cats and 12,000 rabbits) are fed table scraps or leftovers as their main meals.
Around 30 per cent of dogs in Scotland are fed this way - slightly higher than the UK average of 28 per cent.
Cats don’t fare any better with 14 per cent being fed scraps compared to a national average of 13 per cent.
These diet disasters are taking their toll with a third of dogs and a quarter of cats now classes as overweight or obese.
And vet professionals predict the problem will continue to grow with 80 per cent believing there will be more overweight pets than healthy ones by 2019.
Sadly, many overweight pets develop potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes as well as debilitating conidtions including arthritis as a direct result of being overweight.
Vicki Larkham-Jones, PDSA vet, said: “Pet obesity can be tackled, and through a diet and exercise programme, we can transform fat pets into fit pets.
“Nearly half of pet owners believe that obesity is the biggest threat to animal welfare in the next ten years – yet pets continue to be fed unsuitable diets which is fuelling the problem.
“As well as being high in calories, food like takeaways, cake, cheese, chips and crisps are high in fat and sugars which are bad for our pets’ waistlines and teeth. Some owners even admitted to giving chocolate and even alcohol, both of which are poisonous to pets and can be fatal.
“The good news is that we can make a real difference, starting now. With the right food and regular exercise, it is easy to keep pets fit and healthy.”