According to the group, increased time at home has led to owners giving dogs extra treats, with 44% of respondents revealing they have fed their dog more treats every week, and 14% have been “spoiling” their dog daily.
French Bulldog owners were the most likely to feed extra treats (70%), while owners of Springer Spaniels (52%) were least likely to do the same.
Of the 2,000 dog owners surveyed, nearly 1 in 5 (18%) said their dog had put on weight due to extra treats. Some 12% said their dog had put on weight as a result of going on less walks, however, which can be attributed to those who have been shielding or reducing time spent outdoors due to the pandemic.
Lack of knowledge was a key factor in the “battle against obesity”, the data found, as 62% said that they did not know the correct portion sizes for their dog. The younger age group of 16-29-year olds were the least likely to know the correct portion size at 54%.
However, 63% said they would benefit from advice and guidance on helping their dog lose weight. Over half said they want expert tips on general health, fitness and feeding, while over one third (35%) want a clear and structured diet plan.
In a bid to help curb dog obesity, Natural Instinct is launching the ‘Fitness Furst’ Diet Club to provide expert opinion and advice to owners whose dogs need to lose weight.
The club will be hosted by a vet and animal behaviourist and will include a weigh in, support on feeding, diet and fitness advice for members, and more.
Vet Richard Doyle of Wylie Vets said: “We encounter a high number of dogs who are overweight and it does, in many cases, come down to the knowledge of owners as to what they should or shouldn’t be feeding and importantly how much.
“A good place to start is to look at what dogs have evolved to eat over many millions of years. Dogs being hunters and scavengers, means meat forms a major part of a balanced diet. This is a diet high in animal protein (as opposed to plant protein) and fat. This evolutionary diet is very low in carbohydrates particularly sugars and starch.”
He added: “As Vets, we find that dogs fed plant-based proteins and high carbohydrate diets are at much higher risk of developing obesity (and many other modern diseases such as skin disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and diabetes). It is also very much harder to lose weight on a diet based on plant proteins and carbohydrates.
“No dog should be overweight. It is really quite simple, first we need to understand what fuel is best for our precious pooches. Then we need to work out how much fuel they need. Then we need to understand how the engine works – for instance how exercise and hormones control how our pets use the fuel we give them.”