Findings from a survey of more than 1,000 pet owners reveal that almost one in 10 believes their pet has gained weight during lockdown.
The ‘Great British Pet Survey 2021′, carried out by veterinary scale manufacturer Marsden Weighing Machine Group and pet food manufacturer Burgess Pet Care, also found that almost a third of pet owners (32%) said that their pet was overweight. That is an increase of almost 10% from the same survey conducted in 2019.
For dogs, the weight gain was significantly worse, with three times as many owners believing that their dog was over weight, compared to the 2019 results.
The survey also found that a quarter of pet owners do not take treats into account when feeding their pets and a further 25% only do sometimes.
32% of pet owners still guess how much to feed their pets, instead of following the recommended dietary guidelines. This has not changed since the 2019 survey, suggesting pet owners aren’t heeding professional advice surrounding pet obesity.
However, almost a quarter of respondents also stated that they have given their pets more treats during lockdown than before.
Pet obesity is considered the top health concern for UK pets, according to a survey of veterinary professionals by the BVA. In fact, in 2020, a number of vets expressed concerns over lockdown and its effect on the pet obesity epidemic.
The most likely factors for this increase are overfeeding, excessive treats, feeding scraps and not enough exercise.
According to the 2021 survey, only 11% of pets are weighed monthly at the vets, while 5% of pet owners admitted that they’ve never weighed their pet.
Pet obesity is associated with several health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and breathing problems.
Yet despite over 88% of respondents in both surveys stating they would actively work with their vet to help their pet slim down to protect them from certain illnesses, these results haven’t changed.
Dr Suzanne Moyes, operations & technical director and in-house vet at Burgess Pet Care, said: “The results of this survey always give us fascinating insight because, although we know how passionate owners are about looking after their pets, it can be all too easy to let their weight creep up over time.
“The body conditioning score system is a great tool for owners to help them determine how healthy their pets are, but it is by no means a substitute for regular vet check-ups, which are vital to monitoring weight and overall health.
“It is also really important that owners always weigh out their pets’ food and take account of their treats when accounting for their daily food allowance, to ensure accurate portion control. The fact that this survey revealed that 32% of owners ‘guess’ the amount of food they provide shows that we have some work to do to educate owners about this issue.
“We strongly encourage owners to always refer to the back of the pack to check the recommended quantities and, if any owners have any questions, our friendly customer care team is always available to help them.”