COVID-19 has been a major disruption in the lives of most people around the world – and pets, not just humans, are feeling the impact too.
According to the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Survey undertaken recently in the US, more than 71 percent of pet professionals say the pandemic has impacted the way our pets are eating.
Overweight pets and the pandemic
Notably, over 30 percent of pet parents surveyed who have an overweight pet say their pet has become overweight since the pandemic started.
Many of us have an emotional relationship with food, so it is not surprising that we have developed this for our pets too during these tough times when we are spending more time at home.
50 percent of pets are overweight, but alarmingly 90 percent of pet parents don’t even realise this. For many pet parents, the love for their pets is associated with food.
“This ‘Love your pet day’ celebrated on 20 February, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is drawing attention to pet obesity and that, contrary to popular belief, your pet’s love for you is not associated with food,” says Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert from Hill’s.
Food is often seen as a means of emotional support – using food as a reward, when we are feeling depressed, lonely or celebrating. Pet parents get an emotional boost when feeding or giving treats to their pet. Our pet’s reaction is seen as a display of love and affection, and we are afraid that changing our pet’s feeding habits could result in our pet not loving us as much.
“Having an emotional relationship with food can both create the problem of pet obesity and ultimately solve it by changing what’s in their bowl,” says Ackhurst. “Food is actually love, and one of the easiest steps is to start with better nutrition and to be more aware of your feeding habits and the impact these have on your pet.”
Helping your pet lose weight
So, what would you give-up to help your pet lose weight? A recent survey undertaken by Hill’s showed that:
- 49% of pet parents said they would be willing to go on a diet to help their pet lose weight.
- 31% said they would be willing to stop checking their social media for a month to help their pet lose weight.
In addition, vets advise pet parents of the following to help manage their pet’s weight:
- 92% say that giving fewer treats will help dog and cats lose weight.
- 91% say that exercise is an important element, and
- 49% agree with pet parents that keeping their pets at a healthy weight now, during the pandemic, is harder than ever before.
“Hill’s has always been committed to ending pet obesity and helping our pet parents give their pets a healthy long life while still being able to express their love,” says Ackhurst.
“If you are unsure as to whether your pet is overweight, visit your vet, who will then do a weight check and advise you on the best steps to take should your pet be overweight.”
For more information on pet obesity, weight management and the success thousands of pets have enjoyed on the Hill’s Pet Slimmer Programme visit petslimmer.co.za.