12 Oct 2016

Feeding pets scraps causing animal obesity epidemic

11:14 am on 12 October 2016

Scrap the leftovers - under-the-table tidbits are contributing to an obesity blow-out among New Zealand cats and dogs, new figures show.

Cat on scales

"I seem to have put on a few kilos, but we've just come out of winter so I'm carrying extra fur." Photo: 123RF

Research done by Southern Cross Pet Insurance, and released in time for Pet Obesity Awareness Day today, found one in ten dogs and one in six cats were overweight, the company said.

Part of the problem was owners sharing their own food a bit too generously, especially at dinner time, Southern Cross said.

Three-quarters of dog owners confessed to feeding their pooch dinner leftovers, while half of cat owners said they fed their moggy table scraps.

Fat dog

"Doggone it, my BMI is too high." Photo: 123RF

13 percent of dog owners and 6 percent of cat owners said they shared most things they ate with their pet.

Some people, presumably driven by misguided love, not maliciousness, even fed their pet food that could be harmful - two percent said they had given their dog chocolate, which is toxic to canines.

Southern Cross Pet Insurance head Anthony McPhail said it was important pet owners realised the danger of being over generous at meal times.

"A bit of your lunch here and there is the equivalent of an extra meal for an animal and can add up to significant weight gain," he said.

"This puts a lot of stress on the animal's joints, and can lead to diabetes, heart conditions and generally a shorter lifespan."

However, it was encouraging that about three-quarters of overweight dogs and half of overweight cats had already been put on a diet by their owners, he said.

"There's no public health system for pets which means that as an owner it's up to you to pay for any treatment.

"Toxicity and weight-related claims like ligament damage are some of our most common claims and can range between $300 and $1400."

Fat cat

"I'm in purrfect shape, right? Right?" Photo: 123RF

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