According to PetSure, Australia’s largest pet insurance underwriter, claims for obesity related conditions in pets, such as diabetes, heat intolerance and glucose intolerance have soared by 100 per cent over the last five years.

Pet owners are being urged to tackle the obesity epidemic that is facing almost half of Aussie pets.

Senior Veterinarian Dr Oliver Conradi commented on this growing issue, saying that the reason for the increase was due to the “humanisation of pets”.

“Along with all these related conditions such as diabetes and associated conditions like joint disorders, there is a body of evidence to suggest that fit and lean dogs have a significant increase in their median lifespan and a significant delay in the onset of chronic disease,” he explained.

“One of the reasons claims are increasing is the humanisation of pets. This means pet owners are increasingly treating their fur babies like little humans, which reflects the wonderful bond they have, but this treatment can extend to their pet’s diet and the quantity of food they eat. 

“To manage obesity in dogs and cats, owners must avoid giving pets treats, particularly human food such as biscuits, chips or cheese. Even a small amount adds a lot of calories to their pet’s daily intake.”

Cats have a slightly higher incidence of diabetes than dogs, which is a significant indicator of obesity.

The two cat breeds most at risk of diabetes are the Australian Mist and the Abysssinian.

The six dog breeds most at risk of diabetes are:

  • Australian Terriers
  • Siberian Husky
  • Bichon Frise
  • Schnoodles
  • Maltese
  • Rottweilers

However, there are things you can do to help your furry friends lose some weight.

“Following the feeding guide on the packaging of pet food is an easy reference but for those pets already overweight, owners should speak to their vet about changing to a low calorie or weight loss diet,” Dr Conradi explained. 

“Vets will give owners advice such as avoiding bones and other fatty foods or replacing bones with carrots as a crunchy treat.”

Dr Conradi also recommended keeping a close eye on your pets in case they are still gaining weight despite a healthier diet.

“Although the vast majority of pets are obese because of their lifestyle, there are also some diseases that can cause obesity in dogs and cats. If people are concerned that their pet is gaining weight in spite of a healthy diet, they should chat to their vet.”

This article originally appeared on Over60.