A pet charity has warned that around half of all UK pets are overweight, a situation that requires 'urgent attention.'

The vet charity PDSA has raised concerns about a pet obesity crisis, estimating that nearly 50 per cent of UK pets are carrying excess weight. That equates to approximately 5 million dogs and 4.7 million cats.

The findings come as the charity launches its annual 'Big Weigh In' campaign, in partnership with Royal Canin, a company that provides tailored pet-food solutions.

As such, free weight checks are being offered at more than 500 veterinary practices nationwide throughout February and March.

Pet owners can find their local participating practice and book their free appointment here: pdsa.org.uk/WeighUp

PDSA vet nurse, Nina Downing said: "We’re all guilty of over-indulging at times, but worryingly, 36 per cent of dog owners admit to regularly giving their pet leftovers. 

“Since our PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report launched over a decade ago, overweight and obese pets have always been an issue but almost half of veterinary professionals (49 per cent) say they’ve seen an increase in pet obesity in the last two years. And a quarter say obesity is one of the top five welfare issues in dogs.

"With more and more people owning a pet these days, especially dogs, we’re now at a point where it needs urgent attention before it gets even worse."

Dr Lauren Hayes, MRCVS, a veterinarian at Royal Canin, said: “We’re once again partnering with the PDSA on its Big Weigh In campaign to educate pet owners on the important role weight has on the overall health, and therefore happiness, of our pets.

“As well as booking an appointment, there are some simple measures that can help your pet get to a healthier weight. I would always advise using a digital scale to weigh your pet’s food, as it is surprising how easy it can be to overfeed.

"At the appointment, you can also ask your vet about switching to a diet developed for weight loss, such as our satiety nutrition; which has been developed by experts to support safe weight loss while being high in fibre and contains the right macronutrients to keep your pet satisfied.”