Overweight dogs exercise less frequently and for shorter periods: results of a large online survey of dog owners from the UK

J Nutr Sci. 2017 Apr 17:6:e11. doi: 10.1017/jns.2017.6. eCollection 2017.


Canine obesity is now the number one health concern in dogs worldwide. Regular physical activity can improve health, and owners are advised to exercise their dogs on a regular basis. However, limited information exists about associations between overweight status of dogs and walking activity. An online survey was conducted between June and August in 2014, coinciding with the broadcast of a national UK television programme, exploring dog behaviour. Information gathered included signalment, overweight status, and owner-reported information on duration and frequency of dog walking. The University of Liverpool Ethics Committee approved the project, and owners consented to data use. Simple and multiple logistic regression analyses were used to determine associations between overweight status and dog walking activity. Data were available from 11 154 adult dogs, and 1801 (16·1 %) of these were reported as overweight by their owners. Dogs reported to be overweight dogs were more likely to be neutered (P < 0·0001) and older (P < 0·0001). Various breeds were over-represented including beagle, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, golden retriever, Labrador retriever and pug (P < 0·0001 for all). Both frequency and duration of walking were negatively associated with overweight status (P < 0·0001 for both). On multiple regression analysis, duration and frequency were independently and negatively associated with the odds of being overweight, along with a range of other factors including age, neuter status and breed. This study has identified associations between overweight status and exercise. In the future, studies should determine the reason for this association, and whether changes in walking activity can influence weight status.

Keywords: Canine nutrition; Dog walking; Obese dogs; Physical activity.