Dog owners who spend more time exercising themselves often tend to exercise their dogs, according to a new study. The researchers found that more active owners are also more likely to evaluate their dog’s body weight as optimum.
The findings of the research were published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Obese dogs may face a number of health problems, such as diabetes and
cardiac disease, and concerns about dog obesity are increasing worldwide.
Earlier research has identified associations between dogs’ body weight and
diet, exercise, and sociodemographic factors.
However, those studies tended to be small and focused on individual countries.
For a broader, international perspective, Banton and colleagues analyzed
results from a survey of 3,298 dog owners living in France, Germany, the United
Kingdom, Canada and the United States. The survey included questions about
both owners’ and dogs’ diet and exercise routines and each owner’s perception
of their dog’s body weight.
Analysis of the survey responses showed that dogs were more likely to get
more exercise if their owners spent more time exercising themselves. More
active owners were also more likely to perceive their dog as having an ideal
Compared to owners in other countries, owners in Germany tended to exercise their dogs for a longer time, were more likely to perceive their dog’s body weight as ideal, and were less likely to report having been told that their dog was overweight.
Among dogs who were 5 years old and older, owners were less likely to perceive
their dog as having an ideal body weight if they had been told their dog was
overweight, if they reported attempting to control their dog’s weight by
limiting food intake, and if they reported giving dogs other foods, such as
treats, every day.
The findings suggest that many owners may attempt to control dogs’ body
weight through diet, but not through exercise. The researchers, therefore, call
for veterinarians to be given more resources to help owners develop exercise
routines to avoid weight gain in dogs.
Sydney Banton adds: “Results from the survey revealed that feeding practices
play the main role in owner perception of their dog being overweight, while
exercise practices play the main role in owner perception of their dog being an
ideal weight. While many weight loss strategies for dogs focus on feeding, this
data highlights the need to incorporate exercise into weight loss regimens."