A WIGAN vet estimates as many as 40 per cent of pets he treats are overweight.
Dr Shams Mir claims scores of owners love their pets so much that they end up “killing them with kindness”.
He said: “It’s quite a substantial problem. A great proportion of pets we see here are overweight. Not all are obese, but I would say that as many as 40 per cent are heavier than their ideal weight.
“For pets, being overweight can cause skeletal problems. It’s slightly different for us humans because we are upright and absorb weight through numerous joints - but dogs, for example, bear all their weight through their hips and shoulders.
“Osteoarthritis is a common problem among dogs and, if they are overweight, it is likely to affect them much earlier.
“Diabetes is also a common problem and we see more skin conditions in overweight pets than in those that are a healthy weight.”
Dr Mir, of the Sunrise Veterinary Surgery in Parbold, reckons a lack of understanding about animals’ ideal weight is typically to blame.
But he also told how it was often difficult to bring the matter up with owners.
He said: “The most important element is that owners need to understand what weight their pet should be and what food they should be eating. That can differ depending on the animal and depending on the breed.
“A lot of owners are in denial and think their pets are just right, but if their pets are overweight they will struggle with their breathing whenever they exercise and be more likely to develop health problems.
“Some owners fail to appreciate the difference between animals and humans. Feeding pets high-calorie and high-fat foods will not do them any favours.”
Dr Mir added: “Ultimately, it’s owners who must take responsibility for the weight of their pets - they are the ones who are responsible for what their pets eat and what exercise they do.
“Although I think it’s also up to us vets to try to educate the owners about their pets. I always weigh animals when they come in for an appointment - even if I have only seen them a week earlier - and I won’t hesitate to mention it if I notice an issue.”