Dog Obesity Statistics

Fat pets will die young warns PDSA as it launches biggest ever pet health campaign – Long Live Pets

The UK’s pet owners are warned today that they are killing their pets with kindness, as new PDSA figures show dog obesity is rising at a dramatic rate!

Dog Obesity Map

Leading veterinary charity, PDSA, is using the first day of Crufts to reveal its dog obesity map. This ties in with the launch of its ‘Long Live Pets’ campaign, the PDSA’s biggest ever pet health initiative, designed to promote a healthy life for all pets and starts by addressing the weighty issue of obesity.

PDSA has also developed its own version of Body Condition Scoring to help owners learn more about a healthy body shape and to help them identify when their pets are piling on the pounds.

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Sadly, dogs, like humans, are failing to win the battle of the bulge, with many owners putting their animal’s lives in danger by feeding them chocolate*, ready meals and fatty foods. One in three dogs seen by PDSA PetCheck nurses are overweight.

Dog Obesity Health Problems

This means that the life ‘pet-spectancy’ of many beloved UK pets will be cut short as a result of this obesity epidemic, warns the charity for pets in need of vets. An overweight Labrador for example, could have its life cut short by as much as two years and is more likely to develop chronic diseases such as arthritis when younger. Overweight pets are more likely to develop conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart and kidney problems.

PDSA Chief Veterinary Surgeon, Richard Hooker, says: “Our Long Live Pets initiative will address key pet health issues, starting with pet obesity. It is our biggest ever pet health campaign, and our objective is to implement a number of pet health care initiatives such as our Pet Fit Club slimming competition and national sponsored dog walk, which will raise awareness and hopefully achieve positive results for obese pets and address the burgeoning waistlines of the UK pet population.

“As the UK’s leading veterinary charity we provide over 1.8 million treatments to sick and injured pets every year, which means we have a wealth of knowledge and expertise on important pet health issues. As such, we have a duty of care to educate owners about the health and lifestyle needs of their pets to ensure they have the best quality of life possible.”

PDSA pet health checks of more than 9,000 dogs** during 2006 and 2007 reveal which UK regions are home to the portliest pooches. Nationally, PDSA data also shows a dramatic rise of 9 per cent in the number of overweight dogs seen in 2007 – 30 per cent of dogs health checked in 2007 were considered overweight, compared to only 21 per cent in 2006.

When applying PDSA’s 30 per cent overweight figure to the entire UK dog population (around 6.5 million) it means that around 1.95 million UK dogs are overweight! And, if each of those pets was carrying just one extra inch around their waist that would make for one gigantic waistline – stretching the length of more than 500 football pitches!

The PDSA study also shows that hotspots for overweight pets are areas where people are more likely to be obese. PDSA found the number of fat pets in the Midlands stood at 29 per cent in 2007 compared to 19 per cent in 2006. Recent human obesity figures*** showed the Midlands had the largest number of people classed as obese. Meanwhile, the lowest dog obesity figures were in London at 19 per cent. Human obesity is also low in the Southeast. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all score poorly on dog obesity with 30 per cent classed as overweight by PDSA veterinary staff. The overall worst region for dog obesity is the Northwest where 31 per cent of dogs seen are overweight.

Interestingly, child obesity figures also mirror PDSA’s dog obesity statistics with one in three Year 6 children classed as overweight or obese.****

Richard Hooker, adds “Kindness can be misplaced and feeding any animal too many treats can have serious health consequences. The research we have done shows that there is a real need for owners to help their overweight pets lose those excess pounds. Controlled portions of pet food and regular exercise are vital to ensure a healthy life for all our pets. In a nutshell, exercise, nutrition and body awareness are key.”

Case study:
PDSA pet slimming success story, Scooby, will be the star of Crufts after losing 2.5kg and four inches from her waist while taking part in PDSA Pet Fit Club, a 100 day diet and exercise programme. A table will be laid out with the food Scooby ate before her diet including fish and chips, curry, pizzas and ice cream. Scooby now enjoys a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle and has continued to lose weight in recent weeks.

At the start of her diet, Scooby was carrying 81% extra weight and 8 inches too many around her waist! If all of the overweight dogs in the UK were carrying Scooby’s extra inches, that would mean 15.6 million excess inches or 246 miles of dangerous flab, nearly twice the length of the M25! And this is probably just the tip of the iceberg as most dogs in the UK are a lot bigger, and wider than Scooby.

Thanks to her weight-loss, Scooby now has a much improved quality of life and will no doubt live a lot longer than she would had she remained dangerously overweight.
For more information about PDSA visit www.pdsa.org.uk

* Chocolate can poison dogs and other pets, because of the toxic effects of theobromine – a common component of chocolate intended for humans. In dogs the effects of chocolate poisoning appear within 4 to 24 hours of ingestion and can have fatal consequences.

** Results are based on over 9,000 dogs given PDSA pet health checks between March and October 2006 and March and October 2007.

*** Human obesity research by Southampton and Portsmouth Universities on 18,000 adults. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=454673&in_page_id=1770

****Results from the National Child Measurement Programme launched in 2005.

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