Toxic Treats: Research reveals 65% of UK dogs weigh more than they should

New research from Royal Canin UK has uncovered that on average the nation overfeeds its dogs by up to 54,000 calories every year.

The research highlights a rising problem with pet obesity in the midst of the country’s latest national lockdown, with small dogs being overfed by 28% per day, medium dogs by 14% per day and large by up to 10% per day.

The Pet Weight Study, which surveyed over 2,000 British dog owners, reveals that a third (33 per cent) believe their pet won’t be harmed if they feed them leftovers, with two thirds (66 per cent) feeling they need to feed their dog different flavoured foods so that they don’t become bored.

The insights uncovered that a quarter (25%) of dog parents think that all food safe for human consumption is also safe for their dog. Over the past six months, pet owners have admitted to feeding their pooches sausage rolls (34%), hot dogs (32%), shepherd’s pie (28%), McDonald’s (24%), and Chinese takeaway (21%).

It has also emerged from the study that nearly a third of Brits (30%) have admitted to treating their dog to leftover pizza, despite dairy causing diarrhoea or other digestive issues in canines. Sunday roast is evidently the most popular food choice for leftovers, with almost half (46%) of Brits having fed their dog one in the past six months.

When it comes to sweet treats, almost a third (30%) of Britons admit feeding cake and ice cream to their dog in the past six months, with Boxers being the breed most likely to be treated to one (61%).

Royal Canin’s data also reveals that a third (30%) of dog owners have avoided walking their dog because it was raining, and a further quarter (25%) have failed to take their dog for a walk because they were too tired. Dog parents also admit to giving their pooch an extra treat if they can’t take them for a walk (14%), which can be linked to the fact that one in five (20%) save their pet some food from their meal and give it to them after they’ve finished eating.

Responding to these figures, Royal Canin have pulled together a range of tips on ways to keep your pet’s weight healthy and how to tell the ideal dog weight for your pet.

This includes information on body condition scoring, which is a useful tool for dog owners to help monitor their pet’s weight at home, and how best to go about getting them back into shape amid the latest lockdown restrictions.

Lindsay Calcraft, Royal Canin Weight Management Specialist, said: Obesity is now the most common nutritional problem in cats and dogs, and it has a serious impact on their lives. Being above ideal weight can reduce a pet’s enjoyment of life more than their owners realise. A pet’s play times usually involve running, jumping, and climbing. Being above ideal weight limits their speed, agility, and energy for play, decreasing their quality of life. Excess weight also puts a pet at risk of many associated diseases. And the latest research shows it can even shorten their life expectancy.

“If you aren’t sure if your pet is at its ideal weight, we’d recommend you contact your veterinary practice for a Body Condition Score assessment. There is an easy way to have a healthy, happy pet that will enjoy life for many more years. It just takes the right nutrition plus some simple lifestyle and habitual changes. Royal Canin can help with both.”

Committed to its mission of keeping the UK’s pets healthy through nutrition, Royal Canin has put together an online guide on how to help owners maintain their pet’s weight at a safe level.