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Pandemic prompts porky pet problem, warns vet

Pandemic prompts porky pet problem, warns vet

An East Midlands vet has warned pet owners to take urgent action after millions of cats and dogs piled on the pounds during lockdown.


Dr John Rosie, founder of mobile vet service VetCare@Home, claims many domestic animals have literally gone to the dogs or become fat cats in the last 12 months.

It is estimated that 60 per cent of the nation’s nine million dogs are now overweight, while 40 per cent of the UK’s eight million cats have let themselves go.

Even though pet owners have typically spent more time with their animals in the past year than previously, it appears that over-indulgence with treats and meal servings may have outweighed any potential for longer or more frequent walks.

Dr Rosie is urging owners to take stock of their pets’ weight and make any necessary dietary and exercise changes before more serious health conditions occur. 

“Just like us humans, our pets appear to have gained more weight than we would like during lockdown,” said Dr Rosie.  

“It’s imperative that owners now take action, as obesity can cause life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, respiratory problems and arthritis.”

He said that pet owners can make some simple checks at home to determine whether their cat or dog has an obesity problem. These include checking that you can see and feel your pet’s ribs and waist, and that their belly does not sag. If they have a set of scales, people can also weigh their animal regularly to spot signs of changing trends.  

“Owners should be able to tell quite quickly if their pets have been over fed or under-exercised. But if they are unsure what signs to look for, or need advice on how to help their pets lose weight, any vet will be happy to help.” 

Dr Rosie, whose clinics cover the whole of Derbyshire from bases in Belper and the High Peak, believes the pandemic and subsequent restrictions may have led many owners, particularly the elderly, to be concerned about leaving their homes, therefore reducing the number of dog walks.  

Others may have previously relied on dog walking services, some of which tailed off during lockdown. 

Having more family members spending more time at home may also have increased the number and types of treats given to our furry friends.   

“We’ve been spending a lot more time with our pets during lockdown,” said Dr Rosie. “But my gut feeling is that part of that quality time is spent giving treats to our little friends. And we don’t always realise that a modest snack for a human can often be significantly more for a cat or dog.” 

To help your pet unleash its inner, slimmer self, owners are advised to speak to a vet about creating a personalised diet plan for their animal, which is likely to combine exercise with reduced calorie intake. 

To get more advice or find out more about the services of VetCare@Home, visit or ring 01773 302220.

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