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Anton Vets Advice Column

Has Your Best Friend Piled on the Pounds Over Christmas?

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Local Pet News | Has Your Best Friend Piled on the Pounds Over Christmas? | Andover & VillagesThe South East’s bloated canines will be put on a strict diet this January, after piling on the pounds by being fed too many Christmas dinners, crisps and cakes, and other ‘festive treats’.

A survey by Butcher’s Pet Care of 2,000 dog owners found over a third of the South East’s dogs gained between two and four pounds over the Christmas period, compared to their owners who on average gained three pounds; with almost a fifth putting on 5 pounds or more!

The research reveals that it wasn’t just humans who sat down to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner this year, with three quarters of dog owners in the South East admitting that their pampered pets also got a taste of the action, tucking into turkey, roast potatoes and all the seasonal trimmings.

In addition to the turkey dinner, some of the dog owners polled confessed to lavishing their dogs with a diet of cheese and crisps, sandwiches, bacon, and even alcohol during the festivities.

And for those with a ‘sweet tooth’, almost a third (31%) of dog owners said they indulged their pet with doggy chocolate and mince pies.

With the average Christmas dinner containing in excess of 900 calories, porky pets are more than likely to join their owners for a snooze in front of the television after dinner, rather than take in a bracing walk.

Tellingly 68% of dog owners in the South East said they would be taking steps such as going on longer and more walks with their dog in January to try and shed some of the festive pounds; as well as giving them smaller and less frequent meals (25%) to try and bring their weight down.

Over a quarter said that by making their dog fitter in the New Year, they hoped it would also make them leaner and healthier too.

Clare Scallon, from Butcher’s Pet Care, which commissioned the study to mark its 30th anniversary comments; “In the 1980’s when we launched our first canned dog food, the landscape was very different from the pampered pets we see today.

“We firmly believe that this aspect of ‘humanising’ our dogs comes from the very real love and friendship owners feel towards their dogs. We want to be able to treat them like members of the family, and while the rest of us overindulged during Christmas, why wouldn’t we want to spoil them too?

“Nevertheless, a dog’s short digestive tract means that these types of foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugars can actually be very dangerous to dogs. Dogs are natural meat eaters and this is all a dog should really need as part of a healthy and balanced diet.”

As well as over indulging our dogs with festive feasts, the survey has revealed that dog owners in the region spend on average £10.84 per month on treats, presents and pampering for their dogs, with 10% even having splashed out on getting their dogs their own advent calendar.

Not only this but the research shows that the South East dogs are top of the tree more generally when it comes to dinner times, as the majority receive their meals, some specially prepared, before anyone else in the family (58%).

Of the dog owners polled in the region, a quarter add extra human food such as cheese or vegetables to their dog’s meals; and 40% go the extra mile and pour gravy on it or serve it on a human plate.

Clare Scallon continues, “It’s fine to give your dog the odd treat now and again, but all a dog really needs to stay active and healthy is meat; it’s what dogs love and thrive on.

“Meat is packed full of the right protein, fats, vitamins and minerals which contribute to giving a dog a healthy coat, bright eyes, and plenty of energy to run around. Tripe in particular acts like a super food for dogs, as it is rich in many natural nutrients like Omega 3 and 6, enzymes and probiotics which are essential to a dog’s wellbeing. Our very first product and grain free recipe was the Tripe Mix; and this recipe continues to be the No. 1 best-selling single can* today thanks to its fantastic health benefits, and great meaty taste dogs love.

“In addition, upping your dog’s exercise regime and going on more walks is a great way to ensure they stay healthy, and an added bonus is that this will hopefully help owners keep fit too.”

Clare adds: “Our research compared what we gave our dogs as treats 30 years ago, to what we give them now, and it showed that back then our dogs were lucky to get animal bones (52%) or a chewy toy (51%) as a Christmas treat.

“Really the best way for our dogs to maintain a healthy diet is to stick to a meat based diet. It’s the most natural diet for them, and is what their bodies are made for.

“The best advice for owners who have allowed their dogs to over-do-it over the Christmas break, is to stop letting them share their plate, cut out the leftovers, and spend more time out and about and enjoying being active with their dog.”

*No.1 Best Selling Single Can – Symphony IRI, Tota Market Unit Sales 52 w/e 03.12.2016