The doggy-equivalent of human junk food - tasty but not good for them - is driving up both the weight of dogs and the cost of pet insurance, according to research carried out by Healthy Pets Insurance.
Dogs may well wolf down cheaper food, but its their inner wolf - no matter whether a Chihuahua or a Great Dane - owners should be pandering to.
"There are groups of ailments that stand out as frequent types of claims, often associated with overweight dogs: skin disorder, digestive tract problems and bowel diseases. They are not only expensive to treat, but cause great discomfort to pets. And, ultimately, frequent claims drive up the cost of pet insurance," said Mark Effenberg, Chief Executive of Healthy-Pets insurance, based in Petersfield, Hampshire.
"We estimate that around 20% of claims could be avoided through better diet.
"We conducted some research amongst vets, and the common comment amongst those asked about skin, digestion or bowel problems was that in the majority of cases it was down to poor diets: saving a few pence on the cost and quality of pet food is not just a false economy, it could also be very dangerous for your cat or dog. The difference is that a cat can get round it by going out hunting, and ensuring it gets the correct balance."
Vet Richard Allport of the Natural Medicine Centre in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, and the Bayswater Referral Centre in London, said: "Dogs with skin, digestive tract and bowel problems - often overweight too - are very frequent visitors to my two surgeries. In around half of the cases I treat, a simple change of diet has a massively positive impact.
"Their owners may consider their dogs at one end of the scale to be garbage disposal units, or at the other end of the scale to be pampered pets. But leftovers and fine dining can be equally bad for dogs - with some breeds being particularly susceptible to poor quality or rich, fatty diets.
"Modern pet foods have only really been around for perhaps a century - but dogs' digestive systems are designed to deal with eating prey and scavenging - chomping away on raw meat, bones, feathers, fur. That may seem a bit gory to some of us humans, but dogs digestive systems havent changed significantly through the ages - especially not to deal with the wheat and carbohydrates used in some cheaper processed pet foods. Dogs need a protein-rich diet, and their health suffers if they dont get it."
Healthy Pets, an award winning online insurer, is the biggest independent pet insurance provider in the UK, focussing exclusively on cat insurance and dog insurance. It consistently offers the most competitive prices, and has amongst the highest customer satisfaction ratings.