More than a third of the nation's dogs are overweight, veterinary charity PDSA warned today.
An assessment of almost 30,000 dogs across the UK over the past four years revealed the country's obesity epidemic is not confined to humans, with 35% of canines carrying too many pounds.
The figure is an increase on 21% recorded four years ago and, if the trend continues, almost half of all dogs could be overweight by 2013 - putting them at risk of dying early, PDSA said.
While many owners appear to view a podgy pet as cute and cuddly, the charity warns obesity poses a threat to the animals' health and lifespan.
Senior veterinary surgeon Sean Wensley said: "Overweight pets are less mobile, less willing to play and more likely to develop a number of serious health conditions.
"Ultimately, owners control their pet's diet and exercise. The good news is it's never too late to achieve positive change with their veterinary practice."
As part of efforts to highlight the problem PDSA is relaunching its annual pet slimming competition, Pet Fit Club, which aims to encourage owners to get their pets to lose weight.