Survey Suggests Dog Owners Need Help Addressing a Weighty Issue

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Dogs are considered man's best friend, but a recent survey revealed many owners may struggle with how to best care for their pudgy pooches. Because maintaining a healthy weight can add years to a dog's life and help them avoid serious medical conditions, Purina Dog Chow Light & Healthy conducted a nationwide survey to learn more about owner perceptions of their pet's weight, management, exercise, and feeding habits in an effort to offer some solutions to help America's heavy hounds get back on track.

Perception vs. Reality
As pet obesity reaches epidemic levels, the recent Dog Chow survey identified a stark contrast between owners' perceptions and reality when it comes to their dog's weight. Although only 22 percent of owners surveyed believe their dog is overweight, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reports that a whopping 53 percent of dogs are actually overweight or obese.

Even when owners acknowledge that their four-legged friend may be tipping the scales, the survey findings suggest that many may struggle with how to tackle the problem. Of dog owners surveyed who believe their dog is overweight, almost one-fourth (24 percent) admit they don't know how they should manage their dog's weight, and 22 percent have taken no action to do so.

Nutrition Matters
Of those surveyed who have taken action to manage their dog's weight, more than one-third (36 percent) report feeding their pet smaller portions of the same dog food. However, this may leave the dog feeling less than satisfied and the owner feeling guilty.

"Providing a healthy, low calorie diet should be the first step owners take to help their pet slim down," says Christina Schneider, brand manager for Purina Dog Chow. "Purina Dog Chow Light & Healthy was specifically designed to help dogs reach their ideal weight, without sacrificing taste or skimping on portion size."

Purina Dog Chow Light & Healthy contains 20 percent fewer calories than Purina Dog Chow Complete & Balanced, is steam-cooked at the start, includes a tender, crunchy kibble blend, and is made with high quality protein sources including real chicken. It's light in calories, but big on taste.

Assessing the Issue 
A key challenge for owners may lie in understanding how to tell if their dog is overweight in the first place. Although 85 percent of those surveyed believe they know the correct signs to determine if their dog is a healthy weight, approximately 41 percent rely on their veterinarian to determine if their dog is overweight.

While veterinarians are an excellent resource for advice when managing a pet's weight, it's important that owners know how to properly assess their dog's weight as well. The Nestle Purina Body Condition System provides guidelines to help determine if the dog is a healthy weight--including checking the profile and overhead view of the dog and feeling for the dog's ribs.

Get Moving
In conjunction with feeding your pet a low calorie dog food, regular exercise can benefit both the dog and owner. Of dog owners surveyed who report having a healthy weight dog, 61 percent reported exercising regularly themselves, and 77 percent said they give their dog exercise more than three times per week. Having a canine companion also can be one of the best motivators for staying active. In fact, 79 percent of survey participants said they would rather exercise with their dog than with a personal trainer, and 68 percent would choose exercising with their dog over a friend.

"While proper diet should be the first step to helping a pet reach it's ideal weight, regular exercise is important as well," saysGrace Long, DVM, MS, MBA, director of veterinary technical marketing, Nestle Purina PetCare. "Exercising with our pets not only burns calories, but also helps promote the owner-pet bond."

To learn more and download a coupon to try Purina Dog Chow Light & Healthy, visit dogchow.com/lightandhealthy.


Source: Purina Dog Chow