ghp October 2016 | 7 Pet Obesity Is on the Rise at an Alarming Rate In the UK, it is estimated that half of all dogs and cats are overweight, which is one of the main reasons diabetes in pets is on the up. As with humans, obesity in animals carries with it a whole host of health prob- lems. From cancer and heart disease to degenerated joints, overweight pets are more likely to suffer from a number of related medical conditions. It is important that owners watch out for pet obesity and learn how to treat it. Andrew Bucher, co-founder and Chief Veterinary Of- ficer at MedicAnimal commented, “our pets are with- out a doubt valued members of the family. However, it is important to keep treats as treats and not regular snacks to prevent obesity and knock-on health effects. Many pet treats are high in calories, fat and sugar, which can be bad for them if not regulated. Obesity in animals carries with it a whole host of health prob- lems. From cancer and heart disease to degenerated joints, overweight pets are more likely to suffer from a number of related diseases and will die early.” A 2015 report published by the Pet Food Manufac- turer’s Association (PFMA) found that 73% of vets believe that obesity in pets is indeed getting worse and that the majority of pet owners are seemingly unaware of the life-limiting effects obesity can bring; overweight animals can have a reduced lifespan of up to two years! The PDSA’s 20015 Animal Welfare (PAW) report also shows that 58% of the British public believe that severely overweight pets should be removed from their owners, but the feeding problem is also due to too much love. It is common for pet owners to give treats as a sign of affection and it can be difficult to refuse those ‘puppy-dog eyes’ begging for treats. But it’s not all doom and gloom. While pet obesity is easily preventable, simply reducing portion size won’t work, as this could cause malnourishment over time. There are a number of scientifically formulated nutritional products designed to help with healthy and safe weight reduction but do consult your vet before making any diet or lifestyle changes as they can provide your four-legged friend with a full health check and tailored weight management plan. Campaigns such as the PDSA’s Pet Fit Club and PF- MA’s GetPetsFit have done much to raise awareness of the issue of pet obesity and transform the lives of severely overweight pets. These initiatives are a clear example that education and tailored veterinary support can help reverse obesity in animals. With a 900% increase in cases of diabetes among pets in the last five years, it seems a good time to evaluate what we are feeding them. There has been a 1,161% increase of diabetes cases in cats since 2011, with dogs seeing an 850% rise. This significant increase is the result of owners feeding their pets human food and high-calorie treats, which provides further evidence that our pets are becoming ‘humanised’ and increasingly pampered.