More than half of Britains cats and dogs are overweight because owners give them too much food, a veterinary charity has claimed. Many have difficulties breathing and suffer from diabetes and joint and heart problems, according to the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).
The pampered animals are also fed too many sugary snacks, making them susceptible to gum disease that can lead to serious heart and kidney problems. Combined with a generally poor diet and lack of exercise, the number of obese animals has risen dramatically in recent years.
The charity, which runs 45 pet hospitals, last week launched a campaign to encourage owners to be more aware of their pets state of health and their diets.
The PDSAs own vets claimed that there has been a 10 per cent increase in pet obesity over the past 10 years.
Vets are treating more animals with weight-related problems such as breathing difficulties, joint and heart problems and diabetes.
Elaine Pendlebury, Senior PDSA vet said: Our statistics show that we are killing our pets with kindness or just laziness by denying them a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Four out of five dogs over six years old have gum disease that can lead to serious heart and kidney problems.
Jonathan Gravestock, senior veterinary surgeon at the PDSA PetAid hospital in Brighton said: As well as avoiding sugary snacks, owners should encourage their dogs to chew as they would in the wild.
Dogs teeth were made to crunch, tear and chew. Although todays soft processed pet food is nutritionally good for dogs, it lacks any rough content.
The PDSA is keen to help pet owners care properly for their pets. A mobile clinic is to tour Britain offering advice for all pets and health check ups for dogs in an effort to reduce preventable illness.