Over 5 million cats, dogs, and rabbits are now obese because pet owners are overfeeding them with "dangerous" sugary and fatty foods, veterinary charity PDSA has warned.
Obesity, it said, can lead to pets developing potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, as well as debilitating conditions including arthritis.
Scraps from human dinners can be unsuitable to pets and even dangerous, with cake, chocolate, biscuits, crisps, chips, takeaway food, and alcohol all potentially leading to a "drastically" shorter life expectancy, the charity said.
Data shows that 3.3 million dogs, 2 million cats, and 168,000 rabbits are given daily treats, which can contribute to them being overweight – even though 60% of pet owners agree overweight pets are less happy.
Human biscuits, crisps, and chips were the most popular unhealthy treats fed to pets, and up to 186,000 are estimated to have been fed alcohol, PDSA said.
"Pet obesity can be tackled through diet and exercise," said vet Vicki Larkham-Jones, who runs a pet weight-loss programme for the charity.
"As well as being high in calories, food like takeaways, cake, cheese, chips, and crisps are high in fat and sugars which are bad for our pets' waistlines and teeth.
"Some owners even admitted to giving chocolate and even alcohol, both of which are poisonous to pets and can be fatal."
Sara Spary is a consumer business correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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