A study just published shows that 59 per cent of pet dogs are overweight, with 20 per cent being clinically obese.
Researchers took the measurements of 700 dogs aged one or over, and their owners, at five veterinary practices around Glasgow. The results, published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice, showed that only 35 per cent of the animals were classed as having the ideal body shape. In total, 59 per cent were judged to be too heavy, including 20 per cent that were clinically obese and 39 per cent that were merely overweight. Only one in 20 dogs was underweight.
For the study, vets carried out detailed assessments of the amount of fat on different parts of each dog’s body, and placed each animal into one of seven categories. Dogs in the top category, “severely overweight”, tended to weigh at least 15 per cent more than the optimum for their body size.
Further results showed that pets fed on table scraps were more likely to be classed as obese, while those that received snacks and treats were significantly more likely to be overweight.
Older owners were more likely to have overweight dogs and to give more snacks, with some dogs getting half a dozen snacks a day.
Owner income was also linked to risk, with pets of poorer people more likely to be overweight. Owners earning more than £40,000 a year were 61 per cent less likely to have clinically obese dogs compared with owners who earned less than £10,000 a year.
Dogs classed as obese received significantly fewer exercise hours a week than non-obese dogs. The risk of a dog being obese dropped by four per cent for each additional hour of exercise a dog received a week.
Think your dog is overweight? Visit your local vet for nutritional advice. Dogs who are overweight not only find it difficult to move but also increases risk of arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and more. A dog at a healthy weight will have a longer life expectancy.
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