Orchard Vet's Blog

Killing with kindness?


President of the British Veterinary Association, Gudrun Ravetz has warned that pet owners are 'killing their pets with kindness' in the face of a UK animal obesity crisis.

A recent BVA poll found that over 60% of small animal vets considered obesity and overfeeding to be the biggest health and welfare concern for UK pets. Their findings accord with those of a PDSA survey last year that showed 46% of pet owners believe obesity is the biggest threat to animal welfare in the next ten years. Mrs Ravetz responded:

'Obesity is a potential killer for pets and we know more and 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 that owners understand how to correctly feed their pet and how to recognise a healthy body shape, which is something your local vet is well placed to help advise.'

British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) President Susan Dawson added:

'It really is vital that 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 Acts. 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 BSAVA strongly recommends that bodyweight and body condition are monitored regularly and diets modified to maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your vet or vet nurse – they can help.'

Vets use a nine point score to assess the body condition of a pet, which varies depending on the type of animal and breed. Partly this is based on being able to feel but not see bony areas such as the ribs and shoulders; from above, there should be a definite waist behind the ribs; from the side, an animal should have an abdominal tuck. A set of body condition charts are available here.

If you are concerned that your pet is overweight, please bring them in for an assessment. §