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10 February 2016, 06:19
Snacks, takeaway leftovers and even alcohol are fuelling an obesity crisis among pets in Scotland, according to a vet charity.
The PDSA warned owners they could be drastically shortening their pet's life expectancy as it revealed figures showing more than five million cats, dogs and rabbits in the UK are being fed ``treats'' every day.
They said some owners have admitted to indulging their pets by giving them unhealthy - and even dangerous - foods such as chocolate, chips and crisps.
It means a third of dogs and a quarter of cats are now classed as overweight or obese and they are being put at risk of developing life-threatening conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes, the charity said.
The warnings were issued as the PDSA launched its annual Pet Fit Club competition to help pets slim down.
PDSA vet Vicki Larkham-Jones said: ``Nearly half of pet owners believe that obesity is the biggest threat to animal welfare in the next ten years - yet pets continue to be fed unsuitable diets which is fuelling the problem.
"As well as being high in calories, food like takeaways, cake, cheese, chips and crisps are high in fat and sugars which are bad for our pets' waistlines and teeth.
"Some owners even admitted to giving chocolate and even alcohol, both of which are poisonous to pets and can be fatal.''
Charity figures suggest 30% of dogs in Scotland are fed table scraps or leftovers for their main meal, higher than the UK average of 28%. For cats, 14% are being fed scraps compared to a national average of 13%.
The PDSA said vets predict that the problem will continue to grow, with most believing there will be more overweight pets than healthy ones by 2019.
The charity is inviting owners of overweight animals to take part in their latest pet slimming competition.
Pets already working on their weight include Entei the cat from Dundee. The six-year-old has lost over two pounds in weight but is still around 45% bigger than he should be.
German Shepherd crossbreed Zeus and his mother Maia, from Aberdeen, need to lose nearly 4.5 stones between them.
The pair, who are used to dining on sausages and other treats, are being put on a diet by owner Debbie Duncan after she was told by PDSA vets that they had to shift the pounds.
Ms Larkham-Jones said: ``With the right food and regular exercise, it is easy to keep pets fit and healthy.''