Pandemic appears to be driving pet obesity: survey

The pandemic appears to have intensified already rising rates of pet obesity, with more than 71% of pet professionals saying in a new survey that the pandemic has affected the way pets eat.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition conducted the survey in partnership with Kelton Global.

A third of pet owners with an overweight pet said their pet became overweight during the pandemic. While 73% said they’d feel confident knowing their pet is overweight without professional guidance, veterinarians say only 12% of owners proactively flag concerns with their pet’s weight. Nearly two-thirds of veterinarians say pet owners act surprised or defensive upon learning about their pet’s weight issues.

More than half of pet owners said they think it’s easy to help their dogs or cats lose weight, but just over 90% of veterinarians said it’s harder than owners think. Nearly half of veterinarians think it’s harder for pet owners to keep their pets at a healthy weight during the pandemic than before.

Overwhelmingly, they recommend giving fewer treats, more exercise and fewer table scraps.

“We hope these new insights will help pet parents think differently about how they can express their love to their pets and spark conversations with their veterinarians,” said Marina Debernardi, Hill’s global chief professional veterinary officer. “A simple step is to start with better nutrition and becoming more aware of your feeding habits and the impact it can have [on] your pet’s life.”