Pooches and their paunches

Pooches and their paunches

People who are overweight are more likely to have overweight pets, new research1 has revealed.

According to a study of 3,000 dog owners by esure pet insurance, Britain’s obesity crisis is spreading to the nation’s animals at an alarming rate.

The problem is due to a combination of pet lovers passing on their unhealthy eating habits and not giving their canine companions enough exercise.

The study found that more than a quarter (29 per cent) of overweight dog owners believe that their hound is above the average weight for the breed, carrying around excess pounds.

Worryingly, almost one in ten overweight Brits polled admitted they never walk their pet while another seven per cent said the only exercise their dog receives is a brief run in the garden. Incredibly, six per cent admitted feeding their dog the same food they have and another three per cent said they cooked special meals just for their dog.

By contrast, 84 per cent of Brits questioned who considered themselves a healthy weight said they owned a dog which didn’t have any extra pounds to shed.

As a nation, the poll also revealed that just over a fifth (22 per cent) of British dog owners have an overweight pet - with almost a quarter (24 per cent) admitting to regularly over-feeding their dog.

Another 24 per cent of pet owners surveyed give their pampered pooch as much food as they want, while 67 per cent let them munch on treats throughout the day. A third (34 per cent) of dogs are even given a cake on their birthday, according to the research.

But while some pets walk off the excess food, more than one in ten owners said they only exercise their dog a maximum of three times a week. Three per cent said they never exercise their pet.

Even those who do take their pets out for a stroll struggle to keep it up during the week, with two thirds of dog owners surveyed finding it a challenge to walk their dogs enough on week days.

However, while a quarter don’t have enough time, 21 per cent said it’s simply because they couldn’t be bothered once they got home from work.

Mike Pickard, Head of esure pet insurance, which carried out the poll said: “It’s worrying that as many as a fifth of dogs in the UK are overweight. Maintaining a dog’s healthy weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Dog owners should particularly avoid imposing any of their bad eating habits or unhealthy lifestyle choices onto their pets.

A healthier dog may lead to fewer costly trips to the vet too but for any advice on looking after a dog properly, owners should seek professional help. esure pet insurance customers can call its 24-hour ‘Health and Wellbeing’ line where veterinary professionals are available to offer advice and tips on all aspects of pets’ health, including diet and exercise.”

Regionally, Wolverhampton is home to the fattest pets, with a third of dog owners in the city admitting their pooch is overweight.

Belfast came second in the poll with 30 per cent owning fat dogs, followed by Cambridge, Southampton and Coventry.

Brighton and Hove has the slimmest dogs, with just ten per cent of owners saying their pet was carrying extra pounds.

Edinburgh followed close behind with 14 per cent while Birmingham, Portsmouth and Aberdeen completed the top five.

Top ten cities with the fattest dogs (per cent overweight)
1 Wolverhampton 34
2 Belfast 33
3 Cambridge 30
4 Southampton 29
5 Coventry 28
6 Oxford 27
7 Norwich 26
8 London 25
9 Swansea 24
10 Bristol 23

Top ten cities with the slimmest dogs (per cent overweight)
1 Brighton and Hove 10
2 Edinburgh 13
3 Birmingham 14
4 Portsmouth 15
5 Aberdeen 16
6 Leicester 17
7 Plymouth 18
8 Glasgow 19
9 Liverpool 20
10 Newcastle 21

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