Obese Australians Raising Fat Cats & Fat Dogs

May 24, 2006

Wed May 24, 2006 7:38 AM BST
By James Grubel

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia is a nation of pet lovers but it may be loving its animals to death with pet owners passing on rising levels of obesity by overfeeding their cats and dogs, the country’s main animal welfare body says.

Despite its image as a sports-mad country full of fit, sun-bronzed youth, Australia in reality is battling the bulge and challenging the United States as the world’s fattest nation. The problem now extends to household pets.

Obesity rates for Australians have doubled over the past 20 years, with 62 percent of men and 45 percent of women now deemed overweight or obese.

The same trend applies to household pets, with an increase in the number of overweight cats and dogs being dealt with by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), and even one case of an obese pet mouse.

“It’s a big problem, and quite reflective of what’s happening in the human situation,” said Mark Lawrie, the RSPCA’s chief vet.

Australia is a nation of 20 million people, almost 4 million dogs, 2.5 million cats, 8.7 million pet birds and more than 12 million pet fish.

It has one of the world’s highest rates of pet ownership at 64 percent of households, compared to 62 percent in the United States and 44 percent in Britain.

Lawrie told Reuters surveys had found that between 40 and 44 percent of dogs and more than one in three household cats were now overweight, due to poor diet and a lack of exercise.

Fat cats and dogs were more vulnerable to diabetes, arthritis, heart problems and liver disease.

Dogs most at risk were Labradors, Beagles and cross-breeds such as Labradoodles – a mixture of a Labrador and a Poodle – with household moggies more at risk than other types of cats.

The RSPCA said de-sexing and lower levels of exercise had an impact on pet obesity, but the key issue was over-eating.

“It’s really the calorie intake and food that makes the big difference,” Lawrie said, adding that many pet owners could not resist giving their animals food when they asked for it.

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6 Responses to “Obese Australians Raising Fat Cats & Fat Dogs”

  1. Zeus said

    This is really sad. Homo sapiens seem to be treating their animals like they would themselves, and with the statistic of obesity in homo sapiens going up, it only makes sense that it would for us as well. Too many commercial foods for felines are overly high in protein so examining the label could definitely help. Also, if more people would be conscious of the fact that most felines get additional protein from common bugs, birds, worms, etc. that they consume either outside or inside, then they could compensate by providing less produced food at feeding time.

  2. auntie p said

    I see this problem among some older folks who don’t exercise, and don’t have the correct concept about calories input/energy output. This translates not only into weight issues for themselves, but for their pets as well. They think: “how can 1 cup of dry food be enough to last a cat the whole day?” without considering the density of nutrition contained in the dry food, hence they overfeed their pets, who become obese, lethargic and move about even less.

  3. Cat said

    The older generation chinese used to associate chubbiness for cuteness but also being well-treated – well-fed, well-to-do etc. Therefore it was perceived that if one is chubby, one’s life is good. This mentality sort of transcends to the pets they keep.

  4. kuro.shiro.neko said

    actually, i would LOVE to keep my cats slim (save some food cost too!). but how can i tahan the constant nagging in chorus (aka persistent “feed me” meowing)?

    mine gets 4 meals a day, can you beat that?

  5. erinhttp://www.mypetrox.com said

    You can love your pet and still set boundaries for it. You as the owner have to be in charge, not the pet.

  6. Anonymous said

    ciao , bell post! bell blog, io sono paul e se ti va visita il mio sito:commercio itticosono sicuro che ti piacer�.commercio ittico

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