DOG OWNERS could be killing their pets with kindness this Christmas - as humans are not the only ones likely to overindulge during the festive season.
As rates of adult and childhood obesity continue to rise in the UK, the epidemic is increasingly spreading to the nation's pets, as reported previously, and the trend is expected to continue upwards during the Festive Season.
Now the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) is warning that dog owners are failing to take responsibility for their own and their pets' general health and wellbeing.
A survey of around 200 animal physiotherapists found that 81 per cent of the specialists cited obesity as the number one danger facing dogs in the UK.
Almost two thirds of those questioned said that lack of exercise and over-feeding were the main causes of excess weight.
In addition, 71 per cent said greater public awareness could help to reduce or prevent canine obesity.
Jo Spear, from the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy, said: ‘Canine obesity is a growing problem. Studies suggest that it affects 40 to 50 per cent of all dogs.
‘The message that dogs need a balanced diet and regular exercise is clearly not sinking in.
Another worrying trend is that owners' lifestyles appear to be contributing to the rise in canine obesity. As we become increasingly busy, finding the time to exercise ourselves, let alone our pets, can be a challenge.
‘We are seeing more obese owners who feed themselves and their pets too much for the amount of exercise they undertake.
‘Overindulging is a big part of the festive season, but there are steps owners can take to make sure they and their pets don't receive the gift of unwanted kilos. Avoid high-calorie treats, go for long walks to burn off your Christmas dinner and play active games to help prevent that heavy, sluggish feeling.’
The CSP has now created a prevention pack to help owners keep their dogs healthy and also to feel the benefits themselves. It suggests that dogs and owners could keep each other fit by going for regular walks.
A free copy of the canine obesity pack is available by visiting www.csp.org.uk or calling 020 7306 6666.