Owners are “killing pets with kindness” in the face of a UK animal obesity crisis, according to BVA president Gudrun Ravetz.

fat cat
“Many owners show love for their pet through food, but often this is a case of killing with kindness.” Image: milotus / fotolia.

Her comments follow the release of data showing pet obesity is now the number one health and welfare issue for the nation’s companion animal vets.

The results of a BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, released on World Obesity Day (11 October), show 60% of the 1,600-plus small animal vets polled cited obesity or overfeeding as their biggest concern.

Potential killer

Mrs Ravetz said: “Obesity is a potential killer for pets and we know more practices are seeing overweight animals coming through their doors. Many owners show love for their pet through food, but often this is a case of killing with kindness – most animals would instead enjoy playing or interacting with their owner just as much as getting a treat.

“It’s also vital owners understand how to correctly feed their pet and how to recognise a healthy body shape, which is something a vet is well placed to help advise.”

Monitor bodyweight

BSAVA president Susan Dawson added: “It really is vital vets and pet owners work together to help animals stay healthy. All companion animals deserve a nutritionally balanced diet. In fact, it is a requirement of the Animal Welfare Act.

“Of course, it is tempting to give too many treats and easy to forget to weigh food out, but because obesity can cause serious health and welfare problems for companion animals, the BSAVA strongly recommends bodyweight and body condition are monitored regularly, and diets modified to maintain a healthy weight.”

The BVA’s survey chimes with statistics from PDSA. The organisation’s 2015 Animal Wellbeing Report also identified pet obesity as the number one concern for vets, as well as indicating that 46% of pet owners believe obesity is the biggest threat to animal welfare in the next 10 years.

  • Read the full story in the 24 October issue of Veterinary Times.
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