Videos of overweight dogs which have been viewed over 90 million times on TikTok have led to industry experts issuing health warnings about celebrating obese pets.
According to new research by fresh pet food platform VetChef, on Facebook, Instagram and Reddit alone, there are one million members or followers of groups devoted to overweight dogs.
Breeds which feature most in these groups are some of the UK’s most popular dogs such as pitbulls, frenchies, pugs, terriers and beagles.
On TikTok, videos are shared using hashtags including #chonkydogs, #fatdog, and #chubbypuppy. The term “chonky” has come to be used by many social media users to show their “approval” of overweight dogs which first came into use in 2016 in a Twitter group called “Chonky Animals”.
Dr Joe Inglis, founder and pet nutrition expert for VetChef, said: “While it is always a delight to see the joy pets bring, it is worrying that the trend of normalising and glorifying pets that are actually clinically overweight is on the rise.
“The scale of content celebrating overweight dogs on social media is simply breathtaking – with clips hailing so-called ‘chonky’ canines viewed over 90million times on TikTok. The unfortunate reality is that overweight pets are likely to have a lower quality of life, as they are more likely to develop serious health conditions such as diabetes, osteoarthritis and cancer.”
He added that the breeds that seem to be most commonly featured across social media also already have a number of “hereditary health problems”, which are likely to only be exacerbated by being overweight.
In the UK, obesity is one of the leading, ongoing health issues for pets, with 50% of pets now being classed as overweight.