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Six in ten dogs in the UK are on a diet

More and more dogs like Scooby, a 13-year-old dog who weighs 16.3kg, are being put on a strict diet in the UK. Picture: PA

More and more dogs like Scooby, a 13-year-old dog who weighs 16.3kg, are being put on a strict diet in the UK. Picture: PA

Six out of ten dog owners currently have their pet on a diet – with weekly weigh-ins and no food after 6pm among the tough love methods being employed, according to new research.

And the new poll also found one in four owners have even resorted to dieting with their dog.

Researchers polled 1,641 British dog owners who have had to put their pet on a diet in a bid to slim them down.

Measures include putting pictures of thin dogs on the fridge, banning guests from feeding their pet and encouraging the dog to drink more water so it feels full at mealtimes, researchers found.

One fifth even get on the scales at the same time as their pet to see if they have lost weight, with a similar number having even tried to adapt human diets to suit their canine companion.

Clare Scallon, from dog food producers Butchers Lean & Tasty, who commissioned the poll, said: “Some of the measures people are taking appear extraordinary.

“Everyone agrees it is unhealthy for a pet dog to be overweight so it is really important to make sure they have a healthy well-balanced diet, and get plenty of exercise.

“So while it’s good to hear that people are paying attention to the food their dog is eating, they very definitely should not be using human diets as a way of helping them to lose weight.

“Human diets are tailored to human needs, and owners need to be very careful their pet is still receiving the right amount of nutrients needed for their dog.

“Simply by cutting out treats, dog owners already will have started a healthier and less calorific feeding pattern.

“You know your dog better than anyone else, but if in doubt talk to your vet or other pet expert for advice on achieving a healthy diet.”

The study found 34 per cent of owners have even introduced a “flexi” day where their dog can have a day off the diet, and is treated for being so good the rest of the time.

Six in ten people practise “portion control” with their pet, reducing the size of their meals so they are not over-eating.

And while 33 per cent of owners are guilty of trying to feed their dog seemingly healthy human food, 24 per cent cut out biscuits and chocolate.

When it comes to exercise, Britons seem to have the right idea as in addition to regular walks, they are letting the dog into the garden more frequently for a run around, and investing in lots of dog toys to encourage active play.

The research also found Labradors are the dogs which are most like to be overweight, followed by Border collies, spaniels and beagles.

The average dog currently on a diet is overweight, according to their owner, by roughly 5lbs in total, although a hefty one in ten tip the scales by an additional 10lbs.

A quarter of dog owners only realised their pooch needed to watch its waistline after the vet told them it was overweight.

A further one in six owners decided to put their dog on a diet after realising it was getting tired during walks, while a further fifth said their dog started getting obsessed with food.

Other reasons behind over half of the nation’s dogs being put on diets includes the dog being enormous, owners no longer being able to feel their ribs, health issues and wanting the dog to attract a mate. Ms Scallon added: “Our dogs rely on us to ensure they are healthy – we shouldn’t be putting our dogs on human ‘diets’.”

The last UK census recorded there are 10.5 million dogs kept as pets.

 

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