Clare Balding walking with two dogs
Industry News

One million dogs in the UK could be overweight, research finds

At least one million dogs in the UK could be overweight, according to a new study by Pets at Home.

The research found that 10% of owners surveyed know their dog is overweight, with a further 9% saying they don’t know or would prefer not to say. The UK’s dog population is thought to be 10 million dogs.

Overfeeding and lack of exercise were cited as the two main reasons for weight gain in dogs, however almost a third (29%) of dog owners surveyed reduce the amount of time they spend walking their pet.

Moreover, 28% said they took their dog for a walk on the pavement rather than let it run around a park or field and a fifth (22%) said they took their dog on fewer walks; 13% said they put their dog in the garden instead of taking it for a walk, while 11% said they used the weather as an excuse to not take their dog for a walk.

The cold weather was cited as the main reason people walk their dogs less – with 47% worrying it’s too cold for their dog to be outside. The second most popular cause was the owner doesn’t like walking in the dark (30%), followed by not liking walking their dog when it’s wet and muddy (29%), icy weather making it hard for owners to handle their dog on a lead (27%) and people finding the weather too cold for them to walk in (24%).

Leigh-Anne Brown, Practice Owner and Veterinary Surgeon at Vets for Pets (part of Pets at Home) said: “The problem of overweight dogs in the UK continues to rise. The latest research from our veterinary practices shows in the last 12 months, 30% of dogs seen were classified as overweight and that number could be significantly more, as not all dogs are seen regularly by their vet.

“People may not realise, but if a dog is overweight it can contribute to serious health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and heart problems. However, you cannot underestimate the benefits of the daily walk.

Pets at Home has now launched its new ‘Five Minutes More’ campaign with broadcaster and dog lover Clare Balding to encourage pet owners across the UK to add just five minutes to every dog walk to help them stay as active as possible this winter.

Balding said: “Shorter days and wetter weather may make the daily dog walk less appealing, but no less important.

“As a dog owner, you will do anything and everything to look after their welfare and that includes helping them stay a healthy weight. That’s why this winter we are calling on dog owners to get out there come rain or shine to keep their dog active.”

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