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Is dog owner obesity a risk factor for canine obesity?

Study suggests dog owner overweight was found to be the most important risk factor for the occurrence of obesity in dogs

black puppy looking at cupcakes

Obesity in humans is one of the greatest public health challenges we face today. It is also true that the human-animal companion population is also increasing.

Obesity in pets is a growing concern, and it appears to be following the same trend as obesity in humans. Obesity in dogs is caused by an imbalance in the energy balance equation; either excessive dietary intake or insufficient energy utilization results in a state of positive energy balance, which leads to increased body fat. Obesity in pets is on the rise, according to most researchers, and leads to a reduction in life expectancy, just as it is in humans.

The aim of this study, was to measure the risk factors contributing to canine obesity in a region with a high rate of human obesity (Canary Islands, Spain). The authors focused on owner risk factors that promote obesity in humans, such as weight, lifestyle, nutritional habits, and low physical activity, among others, and compared the human-animal interaction relationship that contributes to human obesity and influences canine obesity.

The study consisted of a sample of 198 pairs of dogs from urban households and their owners who visited several veterinary clinics for routine consultations on the island of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain).

The author’s results published in Veterinary Sciences suggest that in a region of high obesity risk (23% and 35% of the human population with obesity and overweight, respectively), obese/overweight dogs are mainly males, older than 6 years old, and neutered. They found a higher prevalence of obesity in unneutered males compared to unneutered females. These differences were significant between the sexes in unneutered dogs. Regarding the human-animal interaction, they also found that overweight dogs were more prevalent in overweight owners. Dog owner overweight was found to be the most important risk factor for the occurrence of obesity in dogs. Dogs with overweight owners, men, and women, were more likely to be overweight. Finally, the authors also observed that obesity in dogs was more prevalent when their owners were overweight women older than 40 years who did not engage in physical activity.

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