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26 March 2015, 06:00
Four out of five vets have seen a rise in obese pets in the last two years, according to research by a leading animal charity.
The PDSA, in its latest Animal Wellbeing Report, warned 80% of vets and veterinary nurses also feared the number of overweight animals could outweigh those of a healthy mass in the next five years.
The results of the survey, which also showed more than half of pet owners were unaware of the issue, come as the charity launched its annual fitness competition to help animals battle the bulge.
PDSA's head of pet health and welfare Nicola Martin said: "PDSA's research has shown that pet obesity is a growing problem and that too many people are continuing to feed their pets inappropriate foods including takeaways, cake, cheese and chips and sadly many pets aren't getting enough exercise.
"Pet obesity is entirely preventable and we're trying to help owners understand that while their pets may beg for food, and giving a treat is seen as a way of showing affection, ultimately it could be killing them with kindness.''
The charity estimated more than six million dogs in the UK got only one hour of exercise a day, warning obesity could lead to shorter life expectancy, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The survey, run by YouGov and taking in 1,069 pet owners and 572 vets, also found dog owners were more likely to feed their animals unhealthy treats, with 83% saying they did so compared with 38% of cat owners.
PDSA's Pet Fit Club competition, which began in 2005, has seen 95 animals shed a total of 60 stone 6lb. Last year's winner, a bulldog named Daisy, dropped 8kg, a quarter of her bodyweight, in six months. Entries for this year are now open.
Dr Philippa Yam, leading animal obesity expert at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, said: "It's clear that pet obesity continues to be a major issue due to a lack of understanding about pets' welfare needs. PDSA's Pet Fit Club competition has successfully raised awareness of this serious, but entirely preventable condition and continues to help many pets year on year.''