BRITAIN’S podgy pets are heading for a “diet disaster” after being fed too many fatty treats from takeaways to crisps and cakes, according to a new report from one of the country’s leading animal welfare charities.
In Scotland, a staggering 89 per cent of dog owners admit they are feeding their four legged friends inappropriate and fatty foods, a survey of 11,000 pet owners by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) has revealed.
Nationally, 12 million dogs, cats and rabbits throughout the UK are being fed junk food or other fatty treats, often on a daily basis. Dog obesity levels are now higher than human obesity figures.
But, despite its poor record on human health, Scotland is far from bottom of the diet disaster league table. Pets in Wales and the North-west fare the worst with 67 per cent being fed on unsuitable foods. The North-east of England comes third at 66 per cent with Scotland in seventh place at 61 per cent, behind the West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside.
Pets in London have the least fatty treats at 53 per cent.
Emily Malcolm, a spokeswoman for the PDSA, said the high proportion of pets being fed too many fatty treats was fuelling a “pet obesity epidemic” in the UK. “In Scotland dogs get the most fatty treats, with 89 per cent of owners admitting to feeding inappropriate and fatty foods. For cats this figure is 42 per cent, while rabbits get the least amount of junk food at 21 per cent.
“What is even more concerning is that 61 per cent of owners in Scotland say they think treats make their pet happy with just three per cent confessing to feeling any guilt about feeding naughty treats.
“And with just one cube of cheese given to a medium-sized dog the equivalent of us eating four shortbread biscuits, half a pizza, or one and a half burgers, PDSA is urging owners to give their companions’ diets a health MOT to prevent long-term, life-threatening illness for the nation’s pets.”
As part of its diet campaign, the PDSA is launching its annual search to find the UK’s most overweight pets to help them slim down and get fit as part of its pet slimming competition, Pet Fit Club.
Two of pets which feature in the campaign come from Scotland. One is Bailey, a five-year-old Border collie from Wishaw who is 59 per cent overweight at 40kg. His owner, Pauline Connor, 48, said: “We always made sure Bailey had lots of exercise, but the titbits we used to give him gradually started piling on the pounds.
“It was habit to pass him a piece of biscuit whilst watching TV together, and at meal times all he had to do was look at us with those puppy-dog eyes.”
Badger, a black and white cat from Edinburgh, weighed 8.7kg before he began his six-month diet and fitness programme in December 2010 with the PDSA. He now weighs just 6.8kg.