Animal charity PDSA has launched its annual pet slimming competition in order to find the UK's fattest pets - and help them get fit.
According to research by the charity, just over 18 million pets are on high-calorie diets, regularly being fed treats such as takeaways, crisps, and cakes.
These poor diets, combined with lack of exercise have meant that pets' lifespans risk being cut short by preventable obesity-related conditions like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.
Elaine Pendlebury, PDSA senior veterinary surgeon, said: "Pet obesity poses not only major health risks, but sadly also means daily misery for millions of pets who are feeling the strain from carrying too much weight.
"Vet practices across the UK see the consequences of pet obesity every single day, such as obese dogs unable to enjoy regular walks due to exhaustion, fat cats that can't jump or play, and rabbits so hopelessly overweight they can't clean themselves properly.
"Diet is one of the most misunderstood welfare needs for pets. But it's never too late to make a positive change and over the years the pets taking part in our Pet fit Club competition have all been given a new lease of life. Owners have reported that once their pet has lost weight it has made their pet much happier as well as healthier."
Dr Alex German, animal obesity specialist at the University of Liverpool, added that scientific research backed the anecdotes: "Our own clinical study demonstrated that overweight pets suffer from decreased vitality, as well as more anxiety and emotional disturbances, whilst other studies demonstrate increased risk of developing obesity-related diseases and greater likelihood of experiencing pain when supersized."
Concerned owners can enter their pets into the slimming competition at the PDSA website - the deadline for entries is 12 April.Reuse content