A VETERINARY charity has warned that almost 90 per cent of pets in the Capital are being fed “deadly diets”, putting them at risk of a miserable life and an early grave.
The PDSA will today launch its search to find the most overweight pets and help them slim down by taking part in the annual Pet Fit Club.
Elaine Pendlebury, PDSA senior veterinary surgeon, said: “Pet obesity poses not only major health risks such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, but sadly also means daily misery for millions of pets who are feeling the strain from
carrying too much weight.
“Vet practices across the UK 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. Then there are other obesity-related health conditions which can mean pets don’t lead the long and happy lives they should.”
Pet Fit Club was launched in 2005 and has already helped 46 dogs, 21 cats and one rabbit lose a total of 238kg.
The charity warned that an “obesity time bomb” meant there was misery ahead for thousands of Edinburgh’s pets, with around 87 per cent having inappropriate diets.
Ms Pendlebury said: “Diet is one of the most misunderstood welfare needs for pets, but it’s never too late to make a positive change.
“Owners have reported that once their pet has lost weight, it has made their pet much happier as well as healthier. Many of the owners say that their pet has completely changed since shifting the weight, becoming much more active and energetic, dramatically improving their quality of life.”
Research by PDSA showed that more dogs, cats and rabbits than ever are being fed a “potentially life-threatening” mix of high calorie, inappropriate diets.
Last year, Maverick – described as the biggest cat vets at the PDSA had ever seen – and moggy Casper were named runners-up in Pet Fit Club.
Blue longhair Maverick from Pitt Street, was overweight when he arrived at owner Dee Doyle’s home as a stray before ballooning to 10.2kg – 85 per cent above his ideal weight. After a strict diet, he weighed 8.98kg.
Casper, from West Brougham Street, who would pinch food from owner Christine Collins’ other cats and dogs, lost 19 per cent of his body weight during the competition – originally weighing in at 8.6kg, before dropping to 6.96kg.
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “In severe cases, overfeeding a dog would be an act of cruelty. All owners should ensure their dog has a healthy, balanced diet and is exercised regularly.”
Owners can enter their pets at www.pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub. The deadline is April 12.