Dog Science: Study Shows Overweight Owners More Than Twice As Likely To Have Overweight Dogs

Overweight man surrounded by snacks, eating burger, watching TV

(Picture Credit: Frank Herholdt/Getty Images)

Some people say that dogs reflect their owners’ overall appearances. Now, science has explored this one step further and found a specific, more troubling connection in the way dogs look like their humans.

Research shows that overweight dog owners tend to also have heavier dogs.

Many humans gain weight due to medical conditions or circumstances outside of their control. However, others gain weight due to poor diet and exercise, and those habits can extend to their pets.

If you feel that you’re on the heavier side due to factors such as lack of exercise and proper diet, it may be time to rethink your lifestyle if possible, especially if your dog follows in your footsteps.

Unhealthy Treats And Habits

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that overweight owners are more likely to have overweight dogs compared to slimmer owners. One reason for this is the habit of snacking, which humans sometimes share with their dogs.

“The prevalence of heavy or obese dogs is more than twice as large among overweight or obese owners (35 percent) than among owners who are slim or of a normal weight (14 percent),” according to the researchers.

What’s more, people tend to give treats to pets not only for good behavior but as just that: treats. When the owners, themselves, are enjoying a treat, giving their best bud a cookie or two from the jar may not seem like a bad idea

It becomes a problem when this grows into a habit. Worse, owners who tend to give human food treats, like sweets and carbs, may add to the issue by giving food that contributes to the risk of diabetes.

Pets can also suffer from unhealthy weight gain when they lack the proper exercise. This become a concern, especially among owners who live a relatively sedentary life. Their lack of exercise, such as simple walks outside, tends to affect their pets, too.

Fat-Feeding: A Global Concern

Overfeeding dogs is not only a global concern–even cat owners from all over the world practice it, too. The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals found that half of the dogs that come in to the vet charity are already overweight or obese. This equates to 30,000 dogs that have obesity in the U.K. alone.

Just as it is with humans, obesity signals many other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes. “Pets who are the right weight are less likely to develop diabetes,” says Nurse Kristina Shirley in an interview. “But many owners don’t know whether their pet is overweight.”

A dog’s body shape greatly indicates their current weight status. Rounded bodies with extended bellies that hang on the same level as the chest when they stand upright means they are already on the heavy side of the scale. It’s always best to get in touch with your vet to make sure that your dog is within the healthy weight range.

Do you think your lifestyle affects your dog? How can pet parents make sure their furry family members stay healthy? Let us know in the comments below!

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