Objectives: To assess the relationships between socioeconomic and other environmental factors with canine obesity.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional questionnaire study of dog owners attending five primary veterinary practices in the UK. Owners were asked about dog age, neuter status, feeding habits, dog exercise, household income and owner age. The body condition score of the dogs was also assessed. Factors hypothesised to be associated with obesity were investigated.
Results: In total, data from 696 questionnaires were evaluated. Out of those data evaluated, 35.3% of dogs (n=246) were classed as an ideal body shape, 38.9% (n=271) were overweight, 20.4% (n=142) were obese and 5.3% (n=37) were underweight. Identified risk factors associated with obesity included owner age, hours of weekly exercise, frequency of snacks/treats and personal income.
Clinical significance: Environmental risk factors associated with canine obesity are multifactorial and include personal income, owner age, frequency of snacks/treats and amount of exercise the dog receives. Awareness about health risks associated with obesity in dogs is significantly less in people in lower income brackets. This phenomenon is recognised in human obesity.