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NEW SURVEY WEIGHS UP POTENTIAL REASONS BEHIND THE PET OBESITY CRISIS

02/28/2018

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A new international survey of pet owners commissioned by Mars Petcare has revealed that:

  • Just over half of cat and dog owners give their pet food if they beg for it
  • Almost a quarter of owners sometimes overfeed their pet to keep them happy
  • Only 20 percent always measure how much food they are giving them

Most owners have no idea whether their pet is overweight or not, yet estimates suggest that as many at 59 percent of dogs and 52 percent of cats worldwide are obese. In the survey, only a quarter of cat and dog owners described their pet as overweight. When asked whether their cat or dog exhibited any of the signs of being overweight, however, nearly two thirds indicated that their pet currently has at least one sign of being overweight (such as not being able to feel their pet’s ribs or having had to loosen their collar).

The strong emotional bond between owners and their pets may be part of the issue. Many owners express affection for their pet through feeding. This can easily lead to the pet consuming more calories than it needs. In the survey, for instance, nearly 60 percent of cat and dog owners said that they feel rewarded when feeding their pet. Unfortunately, many owners are not fully aware of the consequences of over-feeding their pet. 61 percent of survey respondents were unaware that overweight pets may be susceptible to diabetes, orthopaedic disease and other chronic conditions.

Cat and dog owners in Brazil, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States were questioned for the research.

One positive finding was that owners were receptive to attempts to assess the problem. Two-thirds of cat and dog owners said they would like their vet to more actively advise them on their pet’s weight (67 percent) and 82 percent would like to be given healthy weight guidelines for their pet and advice on keeping them fit and healthy.

“Our survey shows that pet owners are open to receiving more guidance about how to keep their cats and dogs fit and healthy,” commented Sandra McCune, Scientific Leader, Human-Animal Interaction at Mars Petcare. “The focus of our work at Waltham/Mars Petcare is increasingly on finding ways to support owners in knowing how to keep their pets healthy as well as happy.”

About the Survey

The survey was conducted online during January and February 2018. The total sample size was 5,309 cat and dog owners who were responsible for their pet’s health and well-being (Brazil 1,068; China 1,036; Russian 1,111; United Kingdom 1,023 and United States 1,071).