A clinic for overweight pets has opened at Liverpool University.
According to Dr Alex German, who runs the Royal Canin Weight Management Clinic at the university’s Small Animal Hospital, increasingly widespread pet obesity is largely down to over-feeding:
“Pets might be having the little bit off the end of the dinner plate and owners are also feeding them too much pet food. Measuring cups can hold huge amounts if you cram down the food,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
While human medics use the Body Mass Index in their diagnosis of obesity, no equivalent exists for animals. The primary aim of the clinic is to develop an objective means of determining if a pet is obese.
Through all-body scans, using a Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scanner donated by Royal Canin foods, the clinic hopes to build a database of pet sizes and fat distribution, enabling them to create something similar to the Body Mass Index. They’re starting from scratch by questioning what constitutes animal height.
In 1993, another dog food manufacturer, Hill’s, launched the Hill’s Pet Slimmer of the Year competition. Recognising the problem of overweight pets, the competition is run in conjunction with local vets across Europe. Research to support the competition has produced some interesting information:
- 76% of pet owners believe their pets’ weight to be ‘just right’, but actually, up to 50% of cats and dogs are overweight.
- 60% of European pet owners do not take their pets to the vet to be weighed.
- Pet owners in the UK and Germany are particularly unaware of pet obesity but French and Italian owners are more critical of their pet’s weight.
- Only 15% of owners of obese pets purchase calorie controlled food.
- 40% of pet owners feed snacks to their pets more than once a day, single female dog owners are the main culprits!
- One in four dog owners do not exercise themselves or their dogs.
- Only 30% exercise their dogs enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Burns Pet Nutrition also has information on how their range of natural complete foods can help overweight dogs to slim.