While most people know that an obesity epidemic is impacting humans, not many know it is also impacting pets.
Camvet veterinarian Gavin Rippon said he believes 75 per cent of the animals he sees in the clinic are overweight, and of those 50 per cent are obese.
The heaviest cat he has encountered was 16 kilograms. Gavin said it should have weighed seven kilograms.
A labrador which weighed 63 kilograms was the fattest dog that he saw as a patient. Labradors should weigh about 35 kilograms.
Gavin said people probably aren’t aware that an obesity epidemic is occurring in animals, because there are so many overweight or obese pets around.
“Their idea of normal is skewed,” he said.
Gavin said there are people who come into the clinic with a pet who is a healthy weight, but they are told by another person that their dog is too thin.
A lot of people, Gavin said show their animals love through feeding them.
“People think to love your animals you need to feed them,” he said.
Gavin said there tend to be a lot of overweight animals in overweight households.
“The people aren’t doing the exercise and therefore their pets aren’t either,” he said.
Once animals put on weight, it’s so hard to get it off them.Gavin Rippon
“Once animals put on weight, it’s so hard to get it off them.”
Gavin said overweight and obesity in pets can lead to diabetes, osteoarthritis, thyroid problems and other diseases related to the issue.
Overweight snakes and other reptiles are also animals which Gavin attends to.
“There is a little bit of a fixation on getting your snake to be as big as it can be,” he said.
“They (the owners) pump the food into them and they grow too fast.
“There are a lot of snakes which develop fatty liver disease and other diseases associated with obesity.”
Gavin said the onus is on the pet’s carer to take responsibility.
He said if people leave a bowl of food out for their pet to eat during the day, then they don’t need dinner too.
Gavin said people think because they are constantly eating through the day, then their animal should too.
“They put their hunger on to their animals,” he said.
Gavin said a lot of people apply a ‘human thought process’ into caring for their pet.
He said animals don’t care if they eat the same thing everyday and they won’t ‘get bored’ if they do.