PDSA Launches Urgent Campaign to Tackle Pet Obesity Crisis

The vet charity for pets in need, PDSA, says the pet obesity crisis needs ‘urgent attention’ as vet teams estimate around half of UK pets are overweight – equating to around 5 million dogs and 4.7 million cats.

It comes as the charity launches its annual ‘Big Weigh In’ campaign in a bid to tackle the growing pet obesity crisis head on. PDSA, in partnership with Royal Canin, is inviting pet owners to book free weight checks at participating vet practices nationwide throughout February and March.

There are more than 500 vet practices signed up and pet owners can find their local participating practice and book their free appointment here: pdsa.org.uk/WeighUp

“We’re all guilty of over indulging at times, but worryingly, 36% of dog owners admit to regularly giving their pet leftovers*,” explains PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing. “And while a tasty treat now and then, when considered amidst the rest of their food intake, won’t harm your pet, regularly overfeeding them could lead to serious health problems.

“Since our PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report launched over a decade ago, overweight and obese pets have always been an issue but almost half of veterinary professionals (49%) say they’ve seen an increase in pet obesity in the last two years. And a quarter say obesity is one of the top five welfare issues in dogs.

“But with more and more people owning a pet these days, especially dogs, we’re now at a point where it needs urgent attention before it gets even worse.”

The dangers of overweight pets

“Overweight pets are more likely to suffer from health problems such as diabetes and urinary tract disease – symptoms tend to develop when they are younger and are harder to manage.

“Excess fat can also worsen other health problems – such as arthritis and breathing difficulties – as well as increase anaesthetic and surgical risks, all of which could negatively affect your pet’s quality of life.

“That’s why we’re urging all pet owners to get involved in the PDSA Big Weigh In this year and let us help you help your pet.

“It can feel like a big challenge to get a pet to lose weight, but trust us, it’s worth it and isn’t that difficult (I promise!). Once your pet has reached their ideal size and shape, they will be healthier, happier and more active. They will also have the best chance of living a long, healthy life.”

Dr Lauren Hayes, MRCVS, a veterinarian at Royal Canin, said: “We’re once again partnering with the PDSA on its Big Weigh In campaign to educate pet owners on the important role weight has on the overall health, and therefore happiness, of our pets.

“As well as booking an appointment, there are some simple measures that can help your pet get to a healthier weight. I would always advise using a digital scale to weigh your pet’s food, as it is surprising how easy it can be to overfeed. Consider swapping to low calorie treats or halving the treat to reduce caloric intake. At the appointment, you can also ask your vet about switching to a diet developed for weight loss, such as our satiety nutrition; which has been developed by experts to support safe weight loss while being high in fibre and contains the right macronutrients to keep your pet satisfied.”

The findings come from the 2023 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, the UK’s largest annual nationally representative assessment of pet wellbeing.

During the free weight check, pets’ weight and body condition score will be recorded and owners will be signposted to further materials to help educate them about their pet’s weight and encourage regular monitoring, as well as support with weight loss if needed.

There are also plenty of free helpful resources on PDSA’s website for owners to refer back to. Visit pdsa.org.uk/WeighUp

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