Overweight Bulldog

Pets have piled on the pounds in lockdown

A couch-potato lifestyle and extra treats during lockdown have had an impact on our pets’ health, PDSA has warned.

A survey by the veterinary charity reveals that 1.4 million pets across the UK have gained weight since March 2020.

And the love we feel for our pets could be contributing to the problem. According to owners who said their pet was overweight, the most common factors preventing their pet from losing weight were: giving in when their pet begs for food (29%), they like feeding treats to their pet (19%), their pet is fussy with food (19%), and they feel giving treats shows how much they love them (15%).

Dog treat

Surprisingly, the survey also found that dogs are being walked less frequently than pre-pandemic, with 38% leaving the house just once a day, compared with 33% in February 2020.

But many are enjoying longer excursions: while 41% of the UK’s canine companions are walked for 31 minutes to one hour, 20% are now enjoying walks lasting one to two hours, up from 13% before the pandemic.

Vets estimate that up to half of the pets they see each week are overweight, and these animals have a much greater risk of developing health problems such as arthritis and diabetes, said PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing.

However, she added: “The good news is that even if your pooch or kitty is in need of a health kick, it’s never too late to help them eat well, exercise and play more, and live longer.

“In most cases, simply adapting their diet, replacing treats with playtime and encouraging them to move more can make a huge difference, and are all the ingredients needed for our pets to maintain a healthy weight, essential for a happy, healthy life.”

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