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Recent survey indicates physical and emotional toll of obese dogs


The survey sheds light on the impact of excess weight for dogs and their owners



Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets announced the release of a new study investigating the emotional toll dogs with excess physical weight in dogs has on owners in honor of National Pet Obesity Awareness Day.

The study found that 1 in 5 dog-owning households consider one or more of their dogs to be overweight.1 According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 59% of evaluated dogs in the United States are either overweight (37%) or obese (22%) making the number of overweight dogs in the United States reach a record high.2

Dogs do not always gain excess weight due to a lack of care from their owners,” explained Ernie Ward, DVM, APOP president.1 "If anything, an overweight dog may be a sign that the owner cares too much about their dog's happiness. But while it's often said that 'food is love,' feeding a pet too much could lead to an overall reduced quality of life."

According to the release,1 The Pro Plan Veterinary Diets survey engaged over 600 dog owners within the United States who identified their pet as overweight and pointed out both the emotional and physical factors that contribute to their pet’s excess weight. The study also learned more about how the factors obstruct dog owners from helping pets.

The study also investigated the emotional impact of excess weight gain in pets and found that2:

  • 75% of surveyed owners feel guilty when their dog appears to be hungry.
  • 67% agreed food is a primary source of their dog’s happiness and bond with their dog by giving the pets treats and wants to continue to have that bond.
  • 54% agreed they give their dog more food, table scraps, or treats when the dog begs.
  • 92% of the owners surveyed agreed they are upset when their pet cannot participate in activities they previously enjoyed before they had excess weight.
  • 45% indicated their dog does not have a lot of energy for playtime.

"The results show that many owners of overweight dogs feel conflicted about what quality of life means for their pets," said Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM (Nutrition), director of veterinary communications for Pro Plan Veterinary Diets.1 "While owners recognize that excess weight is keeping their dogs from participating in activities they once enjoyed, they also worry their dogs will be unhappy if feeding changes are made."


  1. New Survey Reveals the Weighty Impact of Excess Weight for Dogs - and their Owners. News release. Purina. October 11, 2023. Accessed October 11, 2023. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-reveals-the-weighty-impact-of-excess-weight-for-dogs--and-their-owners-301953049.html
  2. 2022 State of US Pet Obesity Report. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Accessed October 11, 2023. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/6425ec5d33eaaa634113b2d4/t/6454f61c0cad164860799c8f/1683289630779/2022+State+of+US+Pet+Obesity+Report.pdf
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