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Most pet dogs in UK `too fat`

London: Most pet dogs in Britain seem to be so pampered that they have now become too fat -- in fact six out of 10 adult canines are classified as either obese or overweight, a new study has revealed.

Researchers in Scotland have claimed that risk factors which made dogs more likely to be overweight included lack of exercise, being fed on table scraps, and being given too many snacks or treats.

Dogs were also more likely to be overweight if their owners were elderly or poorer, say the researchers.

"As in human beings this had major health implications as obesity is known to predispose to or exacerbate a range of clinical conditions, including arthritis and finally decreased longevity. The proportion of the human population in the UK which is obese has increased by 400 per cent in last 25 years.

"With this increase of obesity in the UK, it is of relevance to veterinary surgeons that overweight people are more likely to have overweight dogs," a news daily quoted the researchers from Glasgow University as saying.

For their study, the researchers took the measurements of 700 dogs aged one or over, and their owners, at some five veterinary practices around Glasgow. The results showed only 35 per cent were classed as having ideal body shape.

In total, 59 per cent were judged to be too heavy, including 20 percent that were clinically obese and 39 percent that were merely overweight. Only one in 20 dogs was underweight.

The vets also carried out detailed assessments of the amount of fat on different parts of each dog`s body, and placed each animal into one of seven categories. Dogs in the top category, "severely overweight", tended to weigh at least 15 percent more than the optimum for their body size. Further results showed that pets fed on table scraps were more likely to be classed as obese, while those receiving snacks and treats were significantly more likely to be a bit
overweight.

Older owners were more likely to have overweight dogs and to give more snacks, with some dogs getting half a dozen snacks a day. Owner income was also linked to risk, with pets of poorer people more likely to be overweight, according to the findings in `Journal of Small Animal Practice`.

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