- Two thirds (63%) of owners with overweight dogs, don’t realise their pet’s health is at risk, and yet almost half (43%) of UK dogs are overweight
- Over a third (37%) of owners admit to making excuses for not meeting their dog’s recommended levels of exercise
- However, 96% of owners say their dog’s wellbeing is as important, if not more important than their own wellbeing
- Pedigree has launched a new, free app called Pedigree Tracks, a personalised guide to help address the issue of dog obesity and give owners a simple and effective tool to understand their own dog’s exercise and nutrition requirements
New research warns that despite findings indicating almost half (43%) of the UK’s dog population is now classed as overweight, the pet obesity crisis is set to worsen as two thirds (63%) of owners with overweight dogs don’t realise their pet’s health is at risk.
The study conducted on behalf of Pedigree by Professor Mike Davies from the University of Nottingham and supported by research undertaken amongst a pool of UK dog owners, has identified that lack of exercise isn’t the only issue currently facing dogs today. Overfeeding is also a major issue with 44% of dog owners not using any feeding guidelines and a further 13% filling their dog’s bowl whenever it seems hungry.
The findings come in spite of 96% of owners stating their dog’s wellbeing is as important, if not more important than their own wellbeing. However even when armed with good intentions, a third of owners (37%) still admit to making excuses for cutting walks with their dog short, or not walking the dog at all. Of the excuses given, while weather is the biggest deterrent, ‘justifications’ range far and wide from “I’d put a casserole in the oven” to “the wife had just done her hair” and “the dog looked moody.”
In response to the issue, Pedigree has launched the brand new, free Tracks App to help address the issue of dog obesity and give owners a simple and effective tool to understand their dog’s exercise and nutrition requirements. Tracks is the first App which features a combined personalised feeding guide – based on your dog’s breed, age and weight – as well as a tailored exercise plan which recommends how long your dog should be active for each day. What’s more, the App isn’t only for dogs who have a little bit of weight to lose as it’s just as important for owners of fit and healthy dogs to track and understand the wellbeing and needs of their dog too. And there is also a wide range of training tips and videos available on the app as well.
Commenting on the launch of the Tracks App, Jo Ladbrook, Dog Portfolio Director at Pedigree states: “It’s often confusing to know when, what and how to care for your dog – especially for people who are new to dog ownership. This is why we’ve created the free Pedigree Tracks App as it helps to eliminate the confusion around dog ownership, including the lack of awareness around the length of time your dog needs to be active and for some, the guilt often associated with treating your dog.”
One of the elements around dog obesity – and a contributing factor to the UK’s lack of awareness around the issue – is a lack of understanding of the calorie content within your dog’s food. Research conducted by Pedigree into the UK’s pet feeding habits unveiled that dry food has now become the staple product of a dog’s diet in the UK. However the research also shows that less than a third of dog owners (30%) recognise that dry food is more calorie dense than wet food, when in fact, the average dry food has approximately four times the amount of calories that wet food gram for gram. This really highlights that feeding the correct amount of dry food is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy weight for your dog.
In addition, Jo Gale of the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition continues: “The App has been designed to help pet owners decide what suits their dog best in terms of the combination of food and exercise. For instance, we find that a lot of owners don’t realise that wet food is four times less calorie dense per gram than dry food, whilst still providing all a dog’s nutritional needs. Feeding wet food, or a combination of wet and dry food, means that your dog can have a bigger bowlful for the same number of calories – ideal if your dog finds their portions leave them feeling a bit peckish.”
Look after them and they’ll look after you:
However the benefits of having a dog are tangible as over half (52%) of owners have been motivated to lose weight themselves as a result of having an overweight dog. In addition, findings show that of the owners who have spent more time walking their dog:
- Half (51%) have lost weight themselves and felt an increase in fitness
- Over a quarter (28%) now feel more confident in their appearance;
- A further 6% claim an increase in the amount of time spent walking their dog has helped them overcome an illness
The consumer findings are supported by research which indicates that owners who make a commitment to improving their dog’s wellbeing can also improve their own health. In fact, results show that even modest increases in dog walking (90 minutes per week), may produce substantial reductions in issues such as coronary artery disease and diabetes – conditions which are commonly linked to inactive lifestyles.
The two-way benefits of dog ownership are reflected within the findings as when asked ‘what’s the best reason for walking your dog’, as the majority of answers pointed back to increased levels of wellbeing for both humans and man’s best friend, including: “I love seeing my dog play and be happy”, “it’s nice to spend time with my dog (and often my partner too) at the beginning or end of a long day” and “walking my dog gives me quiet time away from everyone – his company is better than most.”
Dr. Jo Gale continues: “Research has shown us that owning a dog and being a responsible owner brings real health benefits, as people who share their homes with pets have a healthier physiological response to stress – including lower blood pressure and baseline heart rate. The two-way benefits for both pets and people make it especially important for owners to maintain a healthy bodyweight for their dog and use tools such as the Pedigree Tracks App and the WALTHAM® S.H.A.P.E.™ guide, to help them understand what’s right for their pet.”
As well as recommended levels of activity, Tracks provides owners with guidance around the amount of food they should be feeding their dog (including treats and dental care products), allowing dog owners to confidently and responsibly feed across dry food, wet food, dental care and treats; a diet which provides a dog with the widest range of health benefits.
The App, which is free to download, is intuitive and has been designed for owners to use on the move. Therefore making it as easy as possible for people to simply press ‘start’ and record their dog’s levels of activity, whether they’re running in the park, playing in the garden or on a long and rambling walk.
The App is available to download for free on iPhone, Android and Windows mobile devices in the relevant app stores. Visit http://uk.pedigree.com/pedigree-tracks/ for further information and to download the App.