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14th December 2007

One in five vets say owners guilty of turning their pet into a pudding at christmas

Turkey, Christmas pud and chocolate top the list of festive foods that send pets to the vets

Slimming clubs and doctors’ surgeries experience some of their longest queues after the excesses of Christmas and New Year, but new research suggests that Britain’s surgeries are also feeling the strain as the nation’s podgy pets pig out on a range of festive foods.

Vets are worried by the over-feeding trend as research carried out by Petplan, the UK’s leading pet insurer, shows. One in five says that the problem of Christmas overfeeding of pets is getting worse.

The comment by vets underscores the finding of a YouGov survey (see editor’s note 1) conducted for Petplan amongst pet owners. One in ten British pet owners admits to over-feeding their pet during the Christmas and New Year period.

Younger pet owners are revealed to be the most guilty: 20% of 18 to 24 year olds confessed to overfeeding their pet during the festive season. But it’s not just humans who are at fault: nearly a quarter (23%) of owners reported that their pets had helped themselves to Christmas leftovers.

The results of this over-indulgence are evidenced by Petplan’s own research amongst vets (see editor’s note 2), which indicates that over a third frequently have to treat pets for problems relating to food consumption at this time of year.

More than half have seen pets who have suffered illness because of food consumption at Christmas, and a quarter of the vets said that the majority of food-related cases they saw were caused by the owner over-feeding their pet.

Of the vets Petplan spoke to, 92% listed chocolate as being the main cause of problems and 69% also identified turkey. A whole array of other foodstuffs – plus alcohol – also cropped up, including pudding, cheese and vegetables.

Simon Wheeler, Petplan’s head of marketing said: "Most dog and cat owners see their pets as part of the family and probably feel guilty if while they are having their annual blow-out the family pet just gets its same ‘boring’ old food.

"Unfortunately, what they are doing by over-indulging the family pet is the exact opposite of kindness. Pets need a healthy balanced diet which is what properly formulated animal food gives them.

"Their digestive systems are not suited to our diets, particularly at Christmas when so much of what we eat is very rich.

"By letting you pet share your Christmas dinner, at best you could be paving the way to obesity but, as the results of our survey amongst vets show, it could also be the direct cause of illness bad enough to require veterinary treatment."

Further information

Name Telephone Email
Adrian Beeby
020 7623 2368
or 07879 403564
Sophie Parker
Petplan Press Office
0208 580 8140
or 07961 851832

Editor’s Notes

1. YouGov survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,985 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 21st November 2007. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Of this 1,047 were pet owners.

2. Vets

Petplan spoke to 100 vets practising across the UK

About Petplan

Petplan is the largest provider of animal health insurance in the world. Established more than 30 years ago, it is part of Allianz Insurance, one of the largest general insurers in the UK