Lazy dog owners fuelling canine obesity crisis

Beagle Running in Grass --- Image by ? DLILLC/CorbisPic: Corbis

We are supposedly a nation of animal lovers, yet many lazy British owners are failing to give their dogs the daily exercise they need.

In fact according to a new study by the PDSA, more than one in three pet pooches do not get an off-lead run each day, and are suffering as a result.

About a third of pet dogs in the UK are now obese, and a combination of lack of exercise and being left home alone for long periods is creating health and behavioural issues amongst the canine population.

Despite the fact that nearly a quarter of British homes have a dog, 35 per cent, or 2.7 million, do not get to run off lead every day, and 25 per cent are left at home on their own for more than five hours at a time. A spokesman for the PDSA warned that it could make for "ill, lonely, aggressive, stressed and obese pets".

Of the owners polled, 91 per cent insisted it was important to monitor their pet's health, but the survey revealed that six out of ten are unaware of the laws regarding pet ownership, and the basic care needed for a healthy, happy animal.

Nicola Martin, head of pet welfare at the PDSA, told the Daily Mail: "Signs pets are suffering and are not happy aren't always as obvious as people might think.

"For example, a dog being fed treats may outwardly show signs of happiness, but what this will be doing inside in terms of weight gain and associated health problems that can develop, such as arthritis and heart disease, can be devastating."

The PDSA report also found that one in four cats is overweight, and 65 per cent of pet rabbits - a sociable animal requiring the company of other bunnies - is living a life of solitude.

The charity urged British pet owners to use its new online tool to check their pets' welfare.

What do you think? Are British pet owners becoming lazier, or are they just unaware of their animals' needs? Leave your comments below...