For the last four years, veterinary charity The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) has been assessing the weight and general health of nearly 30,000 dogs across the UK. In 2006, around one-in-five (21%) of dogs were considered overweight. In 2009, this has risen to more than one-in-three (35%). The charity says that if the data continues this trend then nearly 50% of dogs in the UK will be overweight by 2013. Within the United Kingdom, the South West, Midlands and Scotland areas have the highest percentage of overweight dogs, and Northern Ireland and the South West have the highest year-on-year increase. London is the only area to experience a decrease in overweight dogs – there were 1% less in 2009 than in 2008.
The PDSA is concerned that overweight dogs are much more likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and a lower lifespan. PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Sean Wensley, said: "We know from our work with pet-owners that many view an overweight pet as cute and cuddly. What they don’t see is the threat that obesity poses to their beloved animals’ health and lifespan. Overweight pets are less mobile, less willing to play and more likely to develop a number of serious health conditions."
In response to the problem, the PDSA is re-launching it’s annual pet slimming competition, the PDSA Fit Club, in which the charity recruits some of the most overweight dogs and helps them to slim. The competition is backed by one of the country’s leading animal obesity specialists, Dr Alex German, from the University of Liverpool Veterinary School.
"PDSA is doing great work in highlighting this important animal welfare issue via its slimming competition. It’s vital that owners recognize their pet’s weight problem, seek veterinary advice and do something about it. Through its competition PDSA is putting the spotlight on the pet obesity epidemic and offering practical help to improve the quality of life of the participating pets. Previous years’ finalists have achieved fantastic results and similar success this year will once again provide real-life demonstrations to pet-owners of what can be achieved with commitment and veterinary assistance," said German.
Photo courtesy PDSA