Posted 4th Jan 2018 by Peter Byrne
It has been found that a shocking 49 per cent of dogs and 44 per cent of cats in the UK are now considered overweight or obese by vets*
This has prompted the launch of the IAMS Pet Pledge - this sees owners being encouraged to make a pledge this new year to make create happier and healthier family pets, be it by improving nutrition or more weekend walks.
The IAMS Pet Pledge has launched as new research has revealed that although nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of us are aware of the negative health impacts of sharing our meals with our pets, yet the majority of owners (70 per cent) will still 'treat' their pet to human food. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of pet lovers are guilty of giving their pet daily human titbits, as they believe they enjoy the taste, even though it will impact on their health.
One in ten (11 per cent) believe their pets prefer human treats, and a further 15 per cent give into their furry friend's yearning look. This leads to the question - do we believe the way to our pets' hearts is through sharing our food? Over half of those surveyed claimed the perfect feeding routine includes two healthy and balanced meals but with treats in between. The typical UK dog or cat will enjoy breakfast at 7:43am with dinner served 10 hours and 45 minutes later, at exactly 6:28pm. This offers plenty of time in-between for unnecessary snacks.
Cat lovers are more likely to be concerned about how their feline friends are feeling about the dish they're served, expressing worry about them liking the taste, seeking variety and even believing our food is better for them. In contrast, those who have pet dogs are literally serving up a dog's dinner, with 44 per cent admitting to feeding them leftovers.
Other 'treats' that are given to pets include naan bread, muffins and cereal - shockingly 14 per cent of pet owners will share foods they know could upset their pet's health, with one in five admitting their cat or dog will suffer from vomiting or diarrhoea due to eating the human food they've been given.
It's not only the diet that needs a new year overhaul for our pets. Many lacks regular, quality exercise, with 30 per cent exercising their dog for less than 30 minutes a day. For those who do walk their dogs daily, the average dog will walk for most medium sized breeds will take just over one hour (one hour and four minutes to be exact).
When it comes to cats, they enjoy 34 minutes of play each day, typically playing on their own and chasing things such as string or toys. This could be a reason why only one in ten (10 per cent) of cat owners believe exercise is the key factor in maintaining overall health (vs. 41 per cent of dog owners).
The research also asked pet owners when their pet was at their happiest. For dogs, it was when they were going for a walks; for cats it was sleeping in the same bed as their owners. This proves that human interaction is more important to our pet's happiness than human food.
According to IAMS Nutrition Expert and Veterinary Training Manager, Kellie Ceccarelli, the secret to your pet's wellness is understanding about what your pet needs to be happy and healthy.
“As a pet parent myself, I completely understand how hard it is to say no when faced with puppy-dog eyes, or a little meow begging for a taste of something you are eating. Although some human foods are not harmful, such as boneless chicken or white boneless fish, some human foods can be dangerous. Feeding titbits often leads to obesity, which in turn increases the risk of heart problems, diabetes and joint issues."
"As the survey shows, we feed our pets treats because we believe they enjoy the taste and it makes them happy. To ensure your pet is truly happy, we have to make sure they’re healthy. That’s why we’re launching the IAMS Pet Pledge; asking people to make a promise to their pet that we hope will become a lifelong commitment to their health through nutrition, activity, play and of course, plenty of cuddle time."
You can find out more about the Pet Pledge here.
* Research conducted by One Poll survey of 1,500 UK cat and dog owners