LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Over a third of British dogs are overweight, a veterinary charity warned on Tuesday and the proportion could rise to nearly a half in three years if owners do not change their pets' habits.
Poor diet and lack of exercise are the chief culprits, the PDSA said.
In a survey of some 30,000 dogs in the UK over the past four years, it found 35 percent were heavier than they should be.
It also found that owners gave them leftovers, fatty meats, cheese, pigs ears, chips and biscuits.
A similar PDSA study four years ago found that 21 percent of British dogs were overweight, which means that nearly half of them could be too fat by 2013 if the trend continues.
"Thousands of pets across the UK are having their quality of life, and ultimately their life expectancy, cut short as a direct result of obesity", said a PDSA spokesman.
The latest survey also suggested that around half a million dogs are not taken on daily walks.
To tackle the problem, the charity has relaunched its annual pet slimming competition, Pet Fit Club, which offers 10 overweight pets the chance to go on a free 100 day diet and fitness program overseen by PDSA vets and nurses.
Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Steve Addison