Animal owners with podgy pets could be shortening their life by two years, new research has revealed.
Having more to love when it comes to pets in Britain is a growing problem, with figures showing that nearly half the numbers of pets visiting vets are overweight.
A fifth of owners do not even acknowledge the problem and think their pets are actually a healthy weight, research by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) has shown.
Practising clinical and TV Vet Zara Boland said the issue of obesity is rapidly reaching a crisis point unless owners take action now.
The PFMA has called on pet owners across Britain to take note of their animal's increasing waist line by taking part in their nationwide 'Weigh in Wednesday' campaign, starting from May 8.
The campaign has been developed to encourage pet owners to identify their pet's body condition and then empower them to work towards the ideal body condition. Pet owners can chart their animal's progress using specially designed tools and share their experiences using the hashtag weighinweds.
Involving vets, pet retailers, pet food manufacturers, groomers, pet charities and welfare groups this is the first time all bodies have come together to encourage pet owners to take action.
Keeping pets in the ideal weight range could add as much as two years to their life span, researchers said.
"The issue of obesity is rapidly reaching a crisis point," Ms Boland said. "Obesity has been linked to health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, whilst it's inflammatory effect is known to worsen problems like arthritis."
Each Wednesday in May pet owners are encouraged to take action by speaking to their local vet, pet retailers or going online to www.pfma.org.uk/weighinwednesday to download easy to use tools.