Pet owners in the North West are sharing their own unhealthy eating habits with their four-legged friends - turning the region into a hot-spot for plump poodles and chunky Chihuahuas.
Take-aways, biscuits, chips and even alcohol are all fueling an ongoing obesity crisis for British pets, whose collars are bursting at the buckles due to our addiction to high-calorie, fatty diets, according to vet charity PDSA.
Owners are feeding pets “treats” in a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to make them happy, says the charity.
Exclusive PDSA research shows 64% of owners in the North West give their pets fatty treats, despite the fact that nationally more than 90% of owners realise the resulting obesity can reduce their pet’s lifespan.
Around 2.5m dogs (one-in-three) and more than 2m (one-in-four) are currently overweight and, not only could they have their lives cut short, many will also have a drastically reduced quality of life.
Scotland topped the lardy league table when it comes to lavishing animals with potentially deadly junk food with 72% of owners admitting to giving fatty treats.
Welsh pet owners are the next worst offenders, with 69% over-indulging their pets.
London owners scored the best, but around half (48%) are still feeding pets inappropriate food.
To help combat the problem, the charity is today launching its annual fat-fighting competition, PDSA “Pet Fit Club”.
Over the last eight years, the contest has transformed the lives of some of Britain’s fattest pets, many of whom simply wouldn't have survived had their weight issues not been tackled.
Elaine Pendlebury, PDSA senior veterinary surgeon, said: “Sadly, seeing morbidly obese pets is now an everyday occurrence in vet practices across the UK.
"It is one of the biggest welfare concerns facing the nation’s pets.
"It’s effectively a silent killer leading to long term health issues for pets that can cut their lifespan by up to two years.
“Pet obesity significantly increases the danger of developing major health problems such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease and can also bring about the onset of these chronic diseases much earlier.
"It’s tragic to think millions of pets are suffering under the strain of carrying too much weight, when it is an entirely preventable condition.”
Dr Philippa Yam, leading animal obesity expert at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, said: “PDSA’s findings are very worrying and demonstrate that diet remains one of the most misunderstood welfare needs for pets”
Owners can enter their pets in the fat reduction contest here; deadline is Sunday, April 27.