Lazy dog

Dogs have piled on the pounds in lockdown

A combination of extra treats and less exercise means that many pets across the UK have put on weight since the start of the pandemic.

In a survey by pet food maker Natural Instinct, nearly half of dog owners admitted that they have overindulged their pet over the past 12 months.

Staying at home every day has led owners to dip into the treat tin more often: 44% have fed their dog more treats every week, and 14% have been spoiling their dog daily.

Almost one in five (18%) said their dog had put on weight due to extra treats, while 12% said their dog had gained weight as a result of going on fewer walks, for example because they were working longer hours or shielding due to the pandemic.

Small dog eating

Separate research by Guide Dogs suggests that Britain’s dogs have put on an average of 3.3kg each.

A quarter (24%) of owners said they are not sure how much exercise their dog actually needs each day, and 18% didn’t know that a lack of exercise can cause behavioural problems, such as over-grooming or chewing things.

Lockdown has had a significant impact on many dogs’ health and wellbeing, according to Dr Helen Whiteside, head of research at Guide Dogs.

While a little weight gain is “not the end of the world”, it’s important that owners address it as soon as possible to help prevent medical issues like heart disease, diabetes and joint problems further down the line, Dr Whiteside said.

“A healthier dog is a happier dog, so owners should prioritise daily walks, consider healthy treat swaps and check their weight on a regular basis.”

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