Owners killing pets with kindness
FRASER Coast pet owners who show their animals a little bit too much love could be responsible for skyrocketing levels of obesity in cats and dogs around the region.
Candice Loft from Hervey Bay Veterinary Surgery said every second or third animal seen at the clinic was overweight or obese.
She said little treats or extra food given to animals by pet owners definitely played a role in the huge weight gain vets were seeing.
"People do it out of love," she said.
While an average cat weighed about four to five kilograms, Ms Loft said the surgery was seeing cats that weighed up to six or seven kilograms.
These animals had increased chances of diabetes, heart disease, and kidney and liver dysfunction.
Ms Loft said a lot of animal owners were surprised to hear they were actually harming their animals by overfeeding them.
"It is difficult to stop," she said.
"Many people do this as a way of bonding with their animal."
Grant Bolonje, from Walker Street Veterinary Surgery in Maryborough, said the recommended serving sizes on pet food packets could also be misleading for owners, with some recommending twice the amount of food that was necessary for an animal, depending on its size.
He said pet obesity was a big issue on the Fraser Coast.
"It's a massive problem and we are seeing it getting worse in pets rather than better," he said.
Mr Bolonje said it was the responsibility of pet owners to manage their animals' diets.
"Animals are not self-aware," he said.
"The concept of putting on weight - they are not worried about that, they are not worried about their waistline."
He said free consultations were available at his clinic for pet owners who were concerned about their pets' weight or who wanted to better manage their pets' diet.
He said it was sad to see pets with preventable ailments coming in for treatment.
Sometimes it could even end in tragedy, and some owners were left with no option but to have their animals put down.
He said the stigma attached to underfeeding pets had also played a part in the obesity epidemic, with people preferring to overfeed their animals rather than risk under nourishment.
"They could be dramatically shortening that animal's life."
Managing your pet's weight
- Get your animal assessed by a vet and work out a diet plan
- Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise
- Be firm and do not give animals treats that may cause them to excessively gain weight