Half of the dogs in Britain will suffer painful and early deaths because owners let them get fat

By David Derbyshire

Be responsible: The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals says owners control dogs' diet and exercise

Half our dogs will die of obesity half the dogs in Britain will suffer painful and early deaths because their owners let them become too fat, a charity warns.

The canine obesity epidemic has reached alarming levels, meaning five million dogs are unlikely to reach a healthy and happy old age, says the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.

Too many owners are overfeeding their pets with treats or scraps, or simply not giving them enough exercise, according to its report.

Fat dogs are now such a common sight that many owners have forgotten what a healthy animal even looks like, it adds.

The disturbing findings come from the charity’s annual dog obesity league, compiled from the medical records of 30,000 animals.

PDSA senior vet Sean Wensley said: ‘Overweight pets are less mobile, less willing to play and more likely to develop a serious health condition.

'Ultimately, owners control their pets’ diets and exercise.’

The charity has surveyed the weight of dogs each year since 2006. Over that time, the proportion of obese pets has shot up from 21 per cent to 35 per cent.

If the trend continues, the PDSA estimates that nearly half of British dogs will be overweight by 2013 - putting them at risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and an early grave.

The crisis is most serious in the South-West, where 39 per cent of dogs are overweight.

Britain’s healthiest canines live in London, meanwhile, where just 22 per cent are fat.

The rise in obesity is down to overindulgent owners, Mr Wensley explained.

‘Most people give dogs a complete dog food with all the nutrients and calories they need,’ he said.

‘But they are still feeding them scraps of human food to show how much they love them. Something has to give.’

There are several tests to tell if your dog is overweight. If you gently stroke its side, for example, you should feel its ribs rippling under your hands.

And if you look at it from the side, its waist should tuck up behind the ribs - not be flat or saggy.

Obese dogs also often have bulges of fat at the base of their tails. Owners should speak to a vet about gradually increasing the amount of exercise their animal does and making its diet healthier.

The PDSA is so concerned about canine obesity that it is re-launching its free six-month slimming programme, Pet Fit Club.

source: dailymail