Almost four in 10 pets seen by vets are overweight, according to research by Sainsbury's pet insurance, suggesting that the UK's four-legged friends are heading for an 'obesity epidemic'.
Vets reported that obesity levels in pets are approaching the same dangerous levels as for people in the UK, with an average four in 10 of four-legged patients attending the vet found to be overweight.
As National Pet Month approaches, Sainsbury's pet insurance is urging pet owners to be responsible when it comes to their pet's weight.
Almost one in 10 pets was found to be seriously overweight, while a further three in 10 are heavier than the recommended weight.
Obesity in pets can have similar affects as in humans, Sainsbury's explains, putting strain on the heart and causing illnesses such as animal diabetes, heart disease, and bone and ligament issues.
Data from Sainsbury's shows that such conditions account for approximately one in seven pet insurance claims, which can result from the pet being overweight.
Lucy Hunter, manager of Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance said: "The saddest thing about this research is the fact that the pets are not to blame. As is the case with humans, a lack of exercise and a poor diet, or overeating, is causing our pets’ weight to balloon. Unfortunately a lot of animals will eat everything that is put in front of them so the onus is on the owner to monitor and restrict the amount of food that their pet is consuming."
On the other side of the coin, the research also revealed that around 13 per cent of pets which are seen by vets are underweight, which can also seriously compromise an animal's quality of life and shorten their life expectancy.
Ms Hunter added: "Owners that do not look after their pets through poor diets and a lack of exercise increase the chances of their animals suffering serious health problems, which can run into thousands of pounds in veterinary bills."
If pets do need treamtent, then pet insurance can help to cover the costs, and does not need to be expensive, she continued, with good cover available at competitive prices if pet owners compare pet insurance quotes.
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