If not always killing our pets with kindness, many of us are making them dangerously ill through overindulgence a new study shows.

Pet insurer Animal Friends wanted to investigate the health of some of the pets on its database, and after a five-year study of almost 9000 animals, discovered that cases of diabetes in cats and dogs has risen by over 900% since 2011.

Cats were at highest risk of contracting diabetes with an 1161% increase compared to dogs’ 850% rise.

The West Highland Terrier is the most susceptible dog followed by the Labrador, King Charles Spaniel, Husky and Miniature Schnauzer.

The British Shorthair was the most diagnosed cat, followed by the Burmese, Foreign Shorthair, Maine Coon and Abyssinian.

As with humans the condition is linked to obesity and last year leading veterinary charity PDSA estimated that by 2020 obese animals would be more common than healthy ones.

It also estimated that a quarter of a million UK dogs don’t get walked at all, including many in Scotland.

Last week a woman from the Borders was prosecuted in Selkirk Sheriff Court having let her dog, a cross-breed Corgi, grow to seven stone double its maximum recommended weight, by feeding him too many treats with little exercise.

She pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to provide treatment for the morbidly obese dog, and causing him unnecessary suffering. Sentence was deferred.

Scottish animal welfare charities have long been aware of the link between diabetes in pets and overfeeding, which they say could be viewed as an act of cruelty in itself.

Scottish SPCA Superintendent Sharon Comrie said, "In our experience pet obesity is on the increase in Scotland. Some people think it's harmless to give animals leftovers or lots of titbits and treats and through their own ignorance don't realise they could actually be killing their pet with kindness.

"In extreme cases of over-feeding, animals can become dangerously obese and suffer as a result. This would be an act of cruelty, with just as serious consequences as under-feeding.

"Sadly, animals diagnosed as being clinically obese can have a shorter life expectancy. They also have an increased risk of developing diabetes, liver problems, breathing difficulties and joint stress.”

However diabetes through overeating is rare among working dogs, a spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said:

"This is not something witnessed in gun dogs. There might be a dog every now and again carrying a little weight but, in general, these are animals which work hard during the game seasons and, when they are not working, will be training. Their owners value a trained, fit dog so are unlikely to kill it with kindness or excessive treats."

Andrew Hogg , Senior Vet at Edinburgh PDSA, said he couldn’t comment on the 900 per cent increase “Without having a clearer understanding of the cases that suggest this, it’s hard to know if there are any common contributory factors.

“However, weight can be a significant factor with diabetes in pets. We know from the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report that pet obesity is a growing problem in the UK, and we know diabetes is an obesity-related condition.”

He said it was really important owners kept their pets at a healthy weight. Diet and exercise were key in maintaining their ideal weight.