Pet owners in doghouse over diets

by RICHARD FERRER, Mail online

Last updated at 14:32 12 December 2005

Britain might be a nation of animal lovers, but we're making a right dog's dinner out of their diet.

A survey of 200 animal therapists, published today, names obesity as the number one health danger facing man's best friend.

Eight out of 10 therapists say poor diet and a lack of walkies means half the nation's seven million mutts are doomed to pile on the pounds along with their owners this Christmas.

Jo Spear from the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy, which commissioned the report, warns: "Canine obesity is a growing problem that affects up to 50 per cent of all dogs.

"The message that dogs need a balanced diet and regular exercise is clearly not sinking in. Owners' lifestyles appear to contribute to the rise in canine obesity."

She added: "As we become increasingly busy finding the time to exercise ourselves, let alone our pets, can be a challenge. We are seeing more obese owners who feed themselves and their pets too much for the amount of exercise they undertake."

Experts also warn over-indulged dogs run the risk of heart, lung, liver and kidney disease and may also develop cardiac, digestive and circulatory problems and diabetes.

So how can owners ensure their pets don't pile on the puppy fat?

Ms Spear advises: "Avoid high-calorie treats, go for long walks to burn off your Christmas dinner and play active games to help prevent that heavy, sluggish feeling."

For a free CSP obesity prevention pack to keep your pooch trim, call 020 7306 6666.

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