From sneaking them the odd cat food treat from the sofa to splashing out on a new dog collar for Christmas, most of us can't help but spoil our pets.

However, while treating your four-legged friend to an extra accessory or two can do no harm, experts are again warning against the potential dangers of being over-generous with the snacks.

Following on from the recent news story of Obie the dachshund – who, at 77 pounds has now taken the title of the 'world's fattest dog' – veterinary health expert Dr Victoria Martindale has warned owners that they could be 'killing their pets with love'.

Writing in the Independent newspaper, the expert explains that, just as with humans, pet obesity can lead to a wide range of problems.

Not only can it prevent a pet from doing the things they love, from chasing after sticks to climbing trees, but it can also place excessive pressure on their bones and even lead to conditions such as diabetes.

Indeed, she argues, just like humans, while the odd treat is okay, cats and dogs need both a balanced diet and regular exercise.

"A podgy pooch may look cute but unless we fight the flab for our dogs they won’t live as long as we would like," Dr Victoria says.

Furthermore, you may not even get the chance to spend a few years with your dog, since if you are indeed believed to be neglecting your pet's health and wellbeing, you could have your cat or dog taken from you.

"So the next time those big brown eyes look up at you pleading, 'Please give me a treat,' remember that if you can’t learn to say “no” you could be killing your much loved best friend," the expert concludes.

Fortunately, it's easy to keep a pet both happy and healthy, for example by ensuring you always give them special cat or premium dog food rather than scraps of 'human food', which will often be too fatty or salty.

Written by: Hannah