Junk food and fatty treats are fuelling a “tragic” obesity crisis in domestic animals, with pets in Scotland worst affected, according to animal charity PDSA.
Of the estimated 18 million pets across the UK, 2.5 million dogs (one in three) and over two million cats (one in four) are currently overweight, the PDSA claimed.
To tackle the problem, the charity is launching its eighth annual PDSA Pet Fit Club - and has already identified some of the heaviest pets to take part.
Edinburgh cat Lucky, Pepe the cat from Dundee, and bulldog Angus from Edinburgh are being put on diets to help them shed up to half their body weight.
Staff at the PDSA Dundee centre said Pepe is one of the heaviest cats they have ever seen at 1.5 stone (10kg).
His owner Alison Armstrong said he refuses to eat only two meals a day and has a “monstrous” appetite, even trying to eat handbag straps and computer cables.
The seven-year-old, who has been diagnosed with diabetes, is now being put on a “really strict diet”.
Ann Ward, who owns 1.2st (8kg) cat Lucky, said she is responsible for her pet’s weight and she has always let the cat have what she wants as she was previously abandoned.
Ms Ward said: “Lucky had been badly neglected throughout the first year of her life. I think she’d been thrown odd scraps now and then, but she was in a terrible state.
“She was very fussy about her food though and would only eat cold cooked meats - ham and chicken - but she would eat as much as possible. I know it’s my own fault really, but she’d been through so much already I just let her have what she wanted.
“I have three other cats and Lucky is the only one who is overweight. She’s doesn’t go out much, plus she doesn’t really understand how to play with the other cats either due to her difficult start in life, so this probably hasn’t helped with her weight.”
Senior PDSA vet Elaine Pendlebury said overweight pets are commonly brought into surgeries across the UK with health problems.
She said: “Pet obesity significantly increases the danger of developing major health problems such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease and can also bring about the onset of these chronic diseases much earlier.”
The charity is encouraging other owners to get their pets involved in the programme at www.pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub.