When people take on pets they have a responsibility to promote the creatures’ wellbeing. As part of this, they should provide their creatures with good quality food in suitable quantities and make sure the animals get enough exercise.
If owners overfeed their pets and don’t encourage them to stay fit, the creatures can quickly gain too much weight, and this can reduce their quality of life and lead to a range of medical problems.
Recently, UK-based veterinary charity the PDSA suggested that pets are at risk from an “obesity time bomb”.
It suggested that more animals now face arthritis, diabetes and heart disease because they are fed inappropriate foods, including takeaways and cakes. When coupled with little or no exercise, this can cause their lives to be cut short, the organisation warned.
PDSA vet Elaine Pendlebury noted that pet obesity means “daily misery” for millions of animals.
She added: “Vet practices… see the consequences of pet obesity every single day such as obese dogs unable to enjoy regular walks due to exhaustion, fat cats that can’t jump or play and rabbits so hopelessly overweight they can’t clean themselves properly.”
“And then there are other obesity-related health conditions which can mean pets don’t lead the long and happy lives they should.”
In a bid to tackle this problem, the organisation launched a competition to help the fattest pets get fit. Called Pet Fit Club, it has already helped 46 dogs, 21 cats and one rabbit lose a total of 238kg.
Last year’s winner was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Jack who was so overweight that he did not even have the energy to bark. The dog lost a total of 20.5kg after being re-homed and placed on a diet that saw him lose around half of his total body weight.