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Make head and tail of yours and Fido’s weight

A new website launched today by the Pet Health Council and supported by Public Health Minister Caroline Flint is the first to tackle simultaneously both human and pet obesity. Post Christmas indulgence, the new Petsercise website could not come at a more opportune time to get fit and healthy for 2007.

The new Petsercise website allows users to check their own weight and that of their dogs, in the comfort of their own homes. It then goes on to suggest a Petsercise programme of fun physical activities for people and pets to do together.

Developed in conjunction with fitness expert Nicki Waterman and veterinary surgeon Dr Alex German, MRCVS, from the Pet Obesity Clinic at the University of Liverpool, the Petsercise programme aims to address the ever growing concern surrounding rising obesity levels - not just in people, but in their pets too.

With an estimated 41% of dogs and cats in this country thought to be overweight, 15% of whom are clinically obese, the problem is reaching epidemic proportions. Research has shown that the correlation between overweight owners and their pets is high, and recognition of a weight problem by owners is low. 60% of pets in the UK are never weighed, and one in four UK dog owners admit to never exercising themselves or their dogs.

The website aims to help combat the problem by offering comprehensive information and advice on weight, health and lifestyle, with suggestions to keep a food diary, and a downloadable copy of the Petsercise programme.

Users key in their own height and weight to calculate their Body Mass Index; however, there is no single approved method to determine whether a dog is under or overweight. The site uses a series of questions and illustrations to give a comprehensive picture of the dog‚s physical build.

The information is used to develop an in depth health analysis and is used as the basis for advice on diet, health and fitness.

Veterinary surgeon and Chairman of the PHC, Dr John Foster, MRCVS, says, “The rise in both pet and human obesity levels is certainly worrying, so anything that helps people take a step towards fighting it is worthwhile. The Pet Health Council has worked to develop a system that owners can use in the comfort of their own home and which is both informative and fun.”

Minister Caroline Flint says, “As a dog owner myself, it is clear to me that Petsercise offers a great way to build regular exercise into our daily routines so that pets and their owners can stay healthy and active. Becoming more physically active can help us to manage our weight, but also to reduce our risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Even small changes can make a big difference, so love your pet and yourself by becoming more active.”

For more information, and to download your free copy of Petsercise, visit www.pethealthcouncil.co.uk or contact the Pet Health Council on 020 7255 5480.