Dog Obesity is on the Rise During The COVID-19 Pandemic

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Pumpkin Pet Insurance Provides Top Tips for Owners to Help Overweight Dogs

Pet obesity is a serious health threat to roughly 25-30% of beloved household dogs. [1] Most often caused by excessive food intake, the issue has only increased as pet parents work from home during the pandemic with 53% of owners admitting to giving their dogs extra treats throughout the day. [2] In fact, about one-third of overweight pets became overweight during the pandemic, according to a survey done by Hill’s Pet Nutrition & Kelton Global. Animal experts from Pumpkin Pet Insurance suggest three easy ways that owners can manage their pet’s weight to keep their dogs happy and healthy.

First, it’s crucial to pay attention to a dog’s weight so owners can make adjustments to their food or exercise in response to any major changes. Using an infant scale at home is one way to track weight changes in a small breed dog. A medium sized dog weight can be estimated by weighing your pet in a basket on a household scale and subtracting the weight of the basket. For large breed dogs, consider using a tape measure or a body condition scoring method. It’s also important to keep an eye out for any frequent shortness of breath or if a dog is struggling to get around. Staying attuned to noticeable changes to a dog is the best way for owners to quickly react before any major health issues develop. And while almost three-quarters of pet parents feel that they would be able to independently identify if their animal is overweight, veterinarians state that only one-in-eight actually recognize and act on concerns regarding their animals.

Next, owners should pay attention to what their dog is eating and how frequently. If a dog’s food intake has gone up since the start of the pandemic, it might be time to rethink their diet, especially the amount of treats they get. Pumpkin Pet Insurance’s experts have found it exceedingly helpful to keep a regimen for treats, just like with meals. This helps owners regulate and track how many calories their pup is taking in. It can also play an important role when working with an animal that needs to lose weight, as owners can compare their pet’s weight trends relative to how much they eat.

Finally, the most important tool to aid with animal weight loss is exercise. As COVID has continued on, everyone has seen their fair share of slip-ups in their own regular routines, so the fact that this is happening to the animals we care for is only natural. "Like in many aspects of our lives during COVID, we have to be more creative than ever. To maintain a socially distanced active lifestyle for our dogs, we should consider new solutions to boost activity including fetch activities, walking and physical enrichment. If a pet is new to exercise it is important to consider underlying causes of obesity when considering adding new activities. For example, a pet with arthritis might engage in non weight bearing activities like swimming and water treadmill. A pet with concurrent illness should be screened for hypothyroidism, respiratory disease and heart disease prior to an intense workout regimen,” says Dr. Stacy Choczynski Johnson, DVM, a veterinarian and veterinary expert for Pumpkin.

Aiding your animal in weight loss may seem like an easy challenge, but according to 91% of veterinarians it is much harder than owners think, and almost half of all vets agree that it is even harder during COVID.[3] The overwhelming consensus between Pumpkin Pet Insurance and the pet health community is that the best ways to help pets lose weight are to cut down on the treats they’re consuming, to get out and exercise more, and to not let them eat off the table as much. Just like it is for any person, the weight loss journey for animals is never easy, but instead requires diligence, hard work, and smart planning; these tips should help pet owners start on the right foot and prepare their animals for life after COVID.

Sources:
1 Williams, Krista; Downing, Robin, Obesity in Dogs, VCA Hospitals, https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/obesity-in-dogs

2,3 Hill’s Pet Nutrition, New Study Reveals COVID-19 Pandemic is Fueling Pet Obesity,
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-study-reveals-covid-19-pandemic-is-fueling-pet-obesity-301192871.html

About Pumpkin Pet Insurance[4]
Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) is a direct-to-consumer pet care company and insurance producer founded to help ensure pets live their longest and healthiest lives. Pumpkin insurance plans offer dog and cat owners advanced veterinary care coverage, and their optional Preventive Essentials plan add-on offers life-threatening disease prevention through reimbursing for vaccines and the related annual wellness exam and lab tests, helping enable consumers to make data-informed care decisions based upon their individual pet’s health needs. All Pumpkin Plans provide reimbursement for covered care administered by any licensed veterinary clinic in the U.S. and Canada. Pumpkin insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Pumpkin insurance does not cover routine dental cleanings. Waiting periods, annual deductibles, co-insurance, benefits limits and other exclusions may apply. For all limitations and for information about Pumpkin’s Pet Insurance, and/or to learn more about Pumpkin’s optional add-on Preventive Essentials benefits, visitors can review Terms and Conditions at pumpkin.care/insurance policy and at pumpkin.care/customer agreement, respectively. Additional information may be found by visiting http://www.pumpkin.care.

[4] Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (NPN#19084749) (Pumpkin) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. Pumpkin Preventive Essentials is not an insurance policy. It is offered as an optional add-on non-insurance benefit. Pumpkin is responsible for the product and administration. Pumpkin Preventive Essentials is not available in all states.

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Brittany Gbur

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