2.7 Million Pet Owners Are Told Their Pets Are Overweight In The Last Year

  • In the last 12 months, 1.7 million dog owners and one million cat owners have been told by a vet their pets are overweight
  • Vets suggest that the top misconceptions held by pet owners about the weight of their pets are that overfeeding or giving treats is a way of showing love to pets (54 per cent)
  • Vets report having to seek medical treatment for injuries caused by lifting heavy animals

New research from Direct Line Pet Insurance​ (1) ​reveals​ ​pet obesity is on the rise across the UK. In the last 12 months alone, 2.7 million pet owners have been told their dogs (1.7 million) or cats (1 million) are overweight. This is one in eight (12 per cent) dog owners, a rise on the eight per cent who were told their dogs were overweight over the two years previously, highlighting it is a growing issue.

Research conducted amongst vets​ (2)​, in the last year, reveals that the vast majority (83 per cent) are seeing an increase in the proportion of overweight pets being brought into their practice for treatment. Vets estimate that they are treating 49 per cent more overweight pets than they were just a year ago. In fact, it is estimated that a vet will treat six animals showing signs of obesity during an average week.

Not only is the pet’s health at risk if it is overweight, owners themselves are at increased risk of injury when lifting overweight animals. In just the last year dog owners have sustained several different types of injuries as a result of their pets, some of which are relatively minor, like bruising (two million dog owners) and muscle strain (1.2 million owners) but others are much more serious. Dog owners have reported suffering major injuries including broken bones and spinal injuries as a result of carrying their pet.

The increase in overweight pets means vets are at a greater risk of injury when treating patients and over half (54 per cent) of vets are regularly concerned about injuring themselves when treating heavier animals. Nearly two-thirds of vets who have sustained an injury when treating an overweight animal have had to see the doctor (63 per cent) and two fifths (41 per cent) have needed to go to the hospital. The rise in obesity has also meant that veterinary practices are needing to invest in additional lifting equipment, according to 42 per cent of those surveyed.

Eva Sandstra-Bennett, Head of Pet Insurance at Direct Line, said: “It is alarming that pet obesity is increasing. Dogs and cats being overweight is a very serious issue as it can affect joints, cause diabetes, heart and breathing problems. While it may be horrible to hear from a vet that a pet is overweight, owners should pay attention to their warning, as addressing the problem quickly will reduce risk of future health problems such as diabetes. Measuring out food can help avoid over feeding and while those puppy dog eyes may be hard to resist for scraps and treats, giving in may do more harm than good.”

Vets believe that owners are often unaware of the health issues associated with the weight of their pets. The most common weight-related misconceptions owners have around their pets are that overfeeding or giving treats is a way of showing love (54 per cent), that vets are being overly cautious when it comes to pets’ weights (50 per cent) and that you can feed your pet more as long as it’s high-quality food (47 per cent). Vets say almost a third (30 per cent) of owners believe that obesity isn’t a serious issue in animals, while 16 per cent of owners are also thought to not believe that animals are able to become medically obese.

Breed analysis

Pug owners are most likely to be told they have an overweight pet, with 75 per cent informed that their pet is too heavy by a vet in the last three years. This was closely followed by Boxer owners, of which nearly 67 per cent have been told their dog is overweight and Golden Retrievers (45 per cent)

Table one: Number of overweight dogs broken down by breed

Dog Breed Catergory Proporion of owners with overweight dogs Number of overweight dogs
Pug 75% 305,226
Boxer 67% 319,767
Goldon Retriever 45% 339,904
Spaniel Breeds (Cocker, Springer, Cavalier King Charles etc.) 40% 600, 969
Staffordshire Bull terrier 40% 447,289
Labrador 36% 784,812
Poodle or Poodle-cross (Labradoodle, Cockapoo, Goldendoodle) 31% 155,530
Other Terrier (Jack Russell, West Hihghland, Yorkshrie, Border etc.) 25% 287,442
Border Collie 23% 680,957

Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance 2019

Sources

1​ Research conducted by Opinium among a UK nationally representative sample of 2,006 adults between 20​th​ and 23​rd​ August 2019

2 R​esearch conducted by Pure Profile among 101 vets between 29t​h​ August and 3r​d September 2019

5 ways an office dog could be the key to relieving stress

5 ways an office dog could be the key to relieving stress

For many people having a dog in the office is nothing more than a daydream. However, more and more companies are warming to the idea of an office pup. From therapy dogs to Taking Your Dog to Work Day, dogs are featuring more than ever and it’s easy to see why. Here are 5 ways an office dog could be the key to relieving stress.

Dogs can lower your blood pressure: It has been proven that those with access to dogs within the workplace were less stressed during their routine, but why? Research has found that petting a dog, or even simply being in their warming presence can be positively correlated with a drop in blood pressure.

Dogs can lower your cortisol levels: Interacting with dogs can lower cortisol levels; the cortisol hormone is released when we get stressed out. Long-term high cortisol levels can lead to higher cholesterol as well as hypertension. 

Reducing stress and cortisol levels can be as simple as petting a dog, which has been proven to significantly lower stress whilst improving the immune system’s functions. A study by Virginia Commonwealth University proved that employees who took their dogs to work produced lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol.

Dogs improve your emotional wellbeing: Medical science confirms that dogs contribute to driving emotional wellbeing. Seeing a dog in the workplace is an instant mood-booster, which can greatly improve overall morale and wellbeing. During stressful times in the office, a therapy dog could be the key to keeping everyone as happy as possible.

What is a therapy dog?

In the UK only 12% of employees aged 18-24 said they were happy with their work-life balance, mainly due to stress within the workplace. Many companies use therapy dogs to combat this. Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and affection to people who may need it.

For example, during exam times at university therapy dogs are often used to decrease the stress levels of students who may be feeling worried. It has become more common for therapy dogs to appear in the workplace too.

Therapy dogs majorly improve happiness and reduce stress, providing all the benefits of owning a dog at home translate to the office with a therapy dog.

Dogs encourage healthy lifestyles: Office dogs or temporary therapy dogs need their exercise. Dogs should be taken outside for regular walks for their own needs and to get enough exercise. Healthy and active lifestyles can therefore be encouraged from a canine friend in the office, keeping the office dog active helps ensure employees are active too, making them much more energised and focused.

Improved teamwork and communication: One major factor when it comes to stress in the workplace regards team conflict and miscommunications. Studies have shown that workplaces that featured dogs had better bonding sessions and more to talk about, resulting in a more cohesive and happier workplace over those who had no access to a pup.

So there you have it, 5 reasons an office dog can reduce stress and benefit your overall health. Dogs at work are a great reminder that you might need to take a break every now and then to make yourself feel a bit better.

If you’d like to read more about dogs in the workplace you can read Should dogs be allowed in the office? on our blog.

Should Dogs Be Allowed In The Office?

Should Dogs Be Allowed In The Office?

Credit for this article goes to Katlyn Eriksen

More than 25% of employers say that they are happy to have a dog-friendly work policy, and 1 in 4 firms regularly allow pets in the office. The fact is that we are a nation of animal lovers and dogs bring great joy and companionship to our lives. There are some big advantages to having a dog in your office, but there can also be a downside too (least of all getting less work done because you’re too busy making a fuss of the lovely doggy). But should they really be allowed at your workplace?

Dogs help reduce stress

In Britain 59% of the population deal with workplace stress, however, the good news is that dogs can help to reduce this. In 2018 a study of more students at the British University of Columbia found that the impact of therapy dogs on stress was quite profound. All of the participants reported immediate strong benefits included feelings of happiness, an increase in energy levels and a reduction of stress. This has a scientific explanation – stroking a dog releases serotonin and dopamine in the brain, giving us feelings of reward and pleasure. This, in turn, reduces stress and helps us to relax. Staring into the eyes of a dog also releases oxytocin. This is the very same hormone that helps to bond a mother with her baby.

Dogs need mental stimulation

If you are working in an office, it might not be a good idea to have your dog with you all day if you are constantly busy, or have very little break time. Having your dog sitting under your desk for 8 hours isn’t really mentally stimulating enough for them and they could become frustrated, noisy and destructive. If however your work is varied and your dog is allowed to wander around the office freely, then they might be sufficiently entertained and enjoy the new sights and smells. They may even make some new friends. If you take your dog to the office, you could also pack a bag for them containing a couple of dog toys and maybe a feeding puzzle box, or a Kong to keep them amused.

Dogs need exercise

If you are taking your dog to the office, you need to bear in mind that they will need to go out for walkies regularly and may need to go to the toilet. This may not always be convenient to your work schedule, however, no one wants to end up clearing up dog poo from next to the photocopier. Many dog-friendly offices organise walks every lunchtime, for instance, the Anthony Nolan Trust Headquarters in London has allowed staff to bring in their pets for the last couple of years. Ten members of staff bring their canine companions to work and they have group walks every lunch on Hampstead Heath.

As long as other staff members don’t mind, then having a dog in the office can have a calming effect. It will also get you out for some fresh air at lunchtime, which is better for everyone.

How to Deal with Your Dog’s Paw Infections

It is normal for your dog to lick its paws because this is a cleaning ritual, as long as it is not done in an excessive manner or the dog doesn’t appear to be in pain while doing it. Also, it is not an issue if you notice small cracks on the surface of the paws, as you inspect them. Minor scratches usually heal by themselves and do not create any kind of problems to your dog.

However, there are situations in which paws do get infected, irritated, itchy, and red, causing your dog physical discomfort and even pain. If you notice your dog munching on its paws and whining while doing so, you should immediately take a look at its paws. There are quite a few factors that can lead to paw infections.

Also, believe it or not, there are some dog breeds that are more prone to developing certain types of paw infections than others. Due to the fact that a paw infection can appear at any time during the year, when you are home, or traveling with your pet, you should learn all about it and know how to deal with such episodes in an effective manner. A paw infection can prevent the dog from walking right, not to mention that is quite uncomfortable, especially if we are talking about constant itchiness.

Factors that can trigger a paw infection

  • Yeast or fungi

Although it may seem hard to believe, yeast can grow in an exaggerated manner on your dog’s paws, causing discomfort. When it comes to yeast-related infections, the problem may be more serious than your dog’s paws. According to PetMD, a dog may show fungal infections on its paws, but you may actually have to deal with an overall skin problem. So, it would be recommended to check the dog’s skin in various parts of its body, to see if you notice any issues.

An infection with fungi will make the dog lick its paws rather often. Thus, your companion’s constant interest in licking its paws should ring a bell for you. Red nail beds are another sign of this kind of infection when you closely inspect the paws. Itchiness, redness, and even discharges can be seen in some cases. The reason yeast develops uncontrollably can be due to a food allergy, an allergy triggered by an environmental factor, or skin problem like atopic dermatitis.

  • Infections caused by bacteria

It is worth knowing that both bacteria and yeast are organisms that naturally live on the dog’s paws. But, when they multiply too much, problems emerge. When do bacteria develop beyond control? This usually happens when the dog’s immune system is compromised by a health problem, which makes it unable to keep the bacteria population in control. So, when paw infections are caused by bacteria, there could be a secondary health issue bothering your dog as well.

This type of paw infection manifests through redness, itchiness or pain, swelling, and, in more severe cases, abscess. The dog will also lick and bite its paws more frequent than it is normal. If you notice any of the previously mentioned symptoms, you should seek treatment as soon as it is possible, as this condition creates quite a lot of discomfort.

  • Tears or cuts on the paws

Just like in the case of humans, when skin is cut or torn, a breach for bacteria to enter the organism is created. This is why a cut or torn paw should be treated immediately before it turns into a breeding pool for germs and bacteria.

Dogs can be quite diplomatic when it comes to their injury, so it would be a good idea to inspect the dog’s paws after each walk or adventure in the outdoors. A sharp rock, a thorn, or debris found on the ground can injure the dog’s paws. So, not seeing blood on the floor doesn’t mean that there isn’t any cut to look after. Your dog may lick its paws and clean the blood, but the injury is still there and it can accumulate dust and harmful particles.

The wound should be properly cleaned and disinfected. Using a diluted antiseptic, such as Betadine, the kind everyone has lying around the house, is a good way to do this. Once the wound is cleaned, you will have to apply a sterile bandage over the wound. Make sure it is tight enough so that it won’t fall off as your dog moves and walks. Of course, don’t exaggerate when tightening it, as you still want blood running through your dog’s paws.

  • Grass seeds puncturing the paws

While there’s nothing better than running with your dog through the grass, the tiny seeds produced by plants from the grass family can cause more trouble than you think. Long grass or barley grass, in particular, produce seeds that can be very uncomfortable for your dog. Also, if the seeds are not removed from your dog’s paws, they can easily lead to an infection, due to their sharp ends.

Again, take a good look at your dog’s paws after each walk. This is something a dog owner should do on a daily basis, regardless of the season. Inspecting and cleaning the dog’s paws after each outdoor adventure can save you from a lot of trouble.

Recipes for baths that can soothe your pet’s paws

If your dog has itchy, inflamed, or irritated skin, you can use several natural ingredients to come up with a soothing bath for the dog’s paws. These baths are especially useful for dogs that are prone to food allergies, as they can offer a quick solution when your dog is having trouble with its diet. However, even if we are talking about natural ingredients, it is not recommended to bathe your dog’s paws if they present cuts, thorn nails, or open wounds.

  • One or two tablespoons of baking soda added to a gallon of lukewarm water can be very soothing for itchiness and inflammation. You can soak your pet’s paws in this water for a few minutes after each walk. It will reduce the dog’s need to lick and chew on its paws.
  • Add a few cups of ground, natural, and unsweetened oats to warm water in the bathtub and dissolve them a little. The level of the water should allow only for the paws to soak in, so you don’t need to fill the tub. Put the dog inside the bathtub and allow it to stand or even lie in this water for about 10 minutes. The natural oils contained by the oats will soothe cracked, dry, or inflamed paws.
  • One cup of Epsom salts for every gallon of water can help you come up with a bath that will restore your dog’s natural pH in the paws. This solution will kill harmful bacteria and will help restore the level of good bacteria. 10 minutes spent in this bath will help with itchiness and inflammation.

When it’s time to see the veterinarian

While it is true that many paw issues can be managed at home, you need to know when it’s time to seek the assistance of a veterinarian. For example, in the case of bacterial or yeast infections, the vet may need to take a sample from the dog’s paws in order to recommend the best treatment. So, there are a couple of signs that tell you it’s time to take your companion to be seen by the vet.

  • The paw presents bleeding that doesn’t seem to stop or oozing is noticeable;
  • Sores on the surface of the paws are also not a good sign;
  • When the base of the nails present a sort of crust-like formation;
  • When the paws present calluses of significant sizes. These calluses can make the toes of the paw to move in the wrong direction, causing tenderness and discomfort;
  • Cracks in the paws that are deep, causing bleeds and oozes.

It is not pleasant to see that your best friend is in pain or has to deal with constant itching, but it is worth knowing that most paw infection can be easily treated with a bit of care. However, the best way to avoid health problems when it comes to your companion is to get a puppy with a great genetic condition, from a reliable dog breeder. Charlotte Dog Club is dedicated to connecting future dog owner with the healthiest and happiest puppies, provided by responsible dog breeders only. Visit the website and find the ideal puppy for you and your family.

Is Your Puppy Ill?

Is Your Puppy Ill?

When you bring a new puppy home, there’s nothing you want to do more than shower her with affection.

This is quite wordy, so get your focus glasses on!

But the little ball of energy is more vulnerable to illness than vaccinated dogs with mature immune systems. As a new dog owner or a pet sitter, you may not yet know the signs that you have a sick puppy on your hands. However, there are about seven common puppy illnesses to look out for, including: intestinal parasites, Parvovirus, Coccidia, Canine Distemper, Heartworm Disease, Kennel Cough and Hypoglycemia.

 

Intestinal Parasites

Many puppies get intestinal parasites, such as roundworms or hookworms, early in life. Symptoms include loose stool and an upset stomach. The vet can offer an oral drug to paralyse the worms and enable your puppy to pass them in his poop.

Parvovirus

The virus is highly contagious and can be caught from direct or indirect contact with contaminated feces. Look for bloody diarrhea, vomiting and a loss of appetite. If you notice those symptoms, offer comfort care and get antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.

 

sick-puppy

Coccidia

This parasite, which is usually found in standing water, can infest your puppy’s gastrointestinal tract and the cells inside. Symptoms include diarrhea, blood in the stool or dehydration. The vet can offer a drug to kill the parasite. Looking to avoid this illness altogether? Keep your puppy’s water and environment sanitary and squeaky clean.

Heartworm Disease

If a pesky mosquito bites a dog with heartworm several houses down, it can pass the worm on to your pet if the bug then bites your dog. It takes up to six or seven months before your puppy shows signs of illness. Heartworms can cause heart failure and lung disease and are potentially deadly.  

 

Kennel Cough

Your dog will have a persistent dry, honking cough. See your veterinarian for an antibiotic, offer supportive care (no stress or junk food for your little guy!) and keep your sick dog away from his puppy friends until he’s better. A vaccination is available.

Hypoglycemia

Small dogs can end up with low blood sugar if they don’t eat enough. If your dog has hypoglycemia, she may show signs of lethargy and possibly have seizures. When caring for your suffering dog, offer a proper diet and possibly diabetes medication provided by a vet.