In parallel with the increases in human weight over the last years, dogs are also getting heavier.
A recent study found that more than 50% of the dogs were overweight or obese. For dogs and humans alike carrying too much weight can have negative health consequences.
Which factors make it more likely a dog will be overweight?
The study correlated a dog’s weight and a range of factors in their lives. The aim was to see which factors were most related to carrying too much weight.
The factors analyzed were dog age, neuter status, feeding habits, length of time of exercise, household income and owner age. Questions about feeding habits included how often a dog was fed, with what types of food and whether there was any feeding with table scraps, snacks or treats.
Dogs were rated for body condition and classed as underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese. The standard classification of body shape was used to determine the weight category for each dog.
For the 696 dogs, 5.3% were underweight, only 35.3% were normal weight (ideal body shape), 38.9% were overweight and 20.4% were obese. This means that almost 60% are considered to have a body shape that is characteristic of carrying too much weight..
As had been found previously, dogs that were older and/or neutered were more likely to weigh more than intact dogs, with female neutered dogs being at a higher risk of being overweight than male neutered dogs.
Other factors that were found to increase the likelihood of a dog being too heavy were older owner, less hours of weekly exercise, frequent snacks/treats and lower personal income.
Feeding once or twice per day did not relate to differences in weight. As expected the more table scraps and the more treats, the higher the likelihood of weighing too much. Those dogs that got the most table scraps were the most likely to be obese.
Older owners are more likely to have oversized dogs. However, there was no difference in the time that dogs were exercised between younger and older owners. It is possible that older owners generally walk slower and consequently their dogs get less exercise.