The prevalence of overweight dogs is markedly larger among overweight owners than among normal weight owners, a new Danish study has found.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen and published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine, shows that the prevalence of heavy or obese dogs is more than twice as large among overweight or obese owners than among owners who are slim or of a normal weight.
Part of the explanation lies in how owners manage dog treats. The research results show a correlation between overweight dog owners and the use of dog treats as ‘hygge-candy’ (cozy-candy).
“Whereas normal weight owners tend to use treats for training purposes, overweight owners prefer to provide treats for the sake of hygge,” lead author Dr Charlotte Bjørnvad said. “For example, when a person is relaxing on the couch and shares the last bites of a sandwich or a cookie with their dog.”
The researchers studied 268 adult dogs recruited at animal clinics around Zealand and the Capital Region of Denmark. Of the pets recruited, 20 per cent were either heavy or obese.
The researchers also looked into how castration and sterilisation can be risk factors in relation to dog weight.
Their study showed that castrated male dogs have three times as high a risk of being heavy or obese compared to intact dogs. On the other hand, the study demonstrated that sterilisation has no impact on weight in female dogs.