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Fat Pets Equal Fat Bills

Jun 3, 2008
With more than one third of cats and dogs in the UK classed as obese, the costs of owning a pet are rising whether or not those obese pets are insured. If your pet is obese, chances are you're going to end up paying for it one way or the other.

According to new research from Sainsbury's Bank, there are around 2.72 million obese dogs, and 2.87 obese cats in the UK. That's more than 5.5 million pets whose health is suffering as a result of their excess weight. The owners of those pets are suffering too, with higher vets bills even with insurance.

Many owners of obese pets may not even realize the potential problem and some pet policies don't cover obese pets. The long-term health effects for pets can be serious, and long-term medical care for pets is expensive.

Obese Pets Suffer

Animals that are overfed and become obese can develop diabetes, osteoarthritis, and other conditions that will require long term veterinary treatment. An obese pet's life expectancy can also be reduced.

According to Sainsbury's pet insurance manager Claire Moyles, one problem is simply that many pet owners enjoy feeding their animals 'people food' instead of giving them food that's intended and nutritionally balanced for pets.

Give a dog chocolate and they'll enjoy the treat, but too many of those treats will eventually cause obesity. And in the case of dogs and chocolate the problem is much more serious, as pancreatic and heart problems can result from chocolate ingestion.

If Your Pet is Obese, You'll Suffer Too

A staggering 81% of animal physiotherapists believe that obesity is the biggest health danger for dogs. The numbers definitely bear that out, but your obese pet isn't the only one suffering.

Obese pets develop obesity-related diseases that require long-term care. That means more veterinary visits as well as medications and treatments to reduce the disease symptoms. And that means more money spent on veterinary bills.

In the long term the costs can easily add up to thousands of pounds. Think your insurance will cover it? Think again. Many pet insurers don't cover treatment on obese pets, because pet obesity is a risk factor that can be easily avoided. Even with insurance, your overweight pet may not be covered.

Solve the Problem for you and Your Pet

So how do you solve your pet's weight problem? If your obese pet is a dog, regular walks will make him happier as well as healthier, and that's a great start. Taking your obese cat for a walk is probably not going to work, but you can spend time playing with your cat each day to help them increase their activity levels.

Whether your pet is a dog or a cat, ensuring they're provided with nutritionally balanced pet food will help ease their health problems. When feeding an obese or inactive pet choose food that has been designed as a low-calorie "diet" pet food to help accelerate the weight loss.

Feed your pet the correct amount for their age and breed, and don't feed them any other food. That means no table scraps or other human food treats, no matter how much they "ask" for them. It can be tough sticking to it initially but your pet will get used to the new rule, and in the long term they'll be much healthier. Your finances will benefit in the long run, too.

And in the meantime, keep up your insurance premiums. Getting your pet down to a healthy weight won't take long, and overall, the cost of insurance for a healthy pet is a bargain compared to the potential costs of veterinary bills.
About the Author
The choice of health insurance options for cats and dogs is growing rapidly making it harder than ever to ensure you combine the right cover with value for money. The key is to understand your needs, what the market provides and compare the two. You can find a regularly updated list of pet insurers at UK Insurance Index which you can visit by clicking here.
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