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The Surprising Effect Our Pandemic Weight Gain Has Had On Our Pups

Written by: Stephanie Maguire
Stephanie Maguire is a writer for She loves animals so much that she started her own pet-sitting business in 2017, and goes out of her way to point-out and pet every single dog she sees.Read more
| Published on June 28, 2021

Now that so many “pandemic restrictions” have been lifted, and long-awaited activities are resuming, it’s become obvious that so many of us put on a few extra pounds during the roller-coaster ride of the last year. It’s not very surprising. We often use food as a main source of comfort to combat stress, plus we were being told to remain inside as often as possible. What is surprising is the effect our weight gain has had on our furry best friends.  

Snuggling with pup

Pet health insurance company teamed up with Fi, the smart dog technology company to conduct a survey of 1,000 pet parents to learn how widespread weight gain over the course of the pandemic has affected the health of our canine companions. It makes sense that our weight gain would affect our beloved pups. They were already our constant companions whenever we found ourselves at home. But during the pandemic, we were spending more time at home with them than ever before.

Begging for food

In the joint study, 56% of dog parents reported that both they and their dogs experienced weight gain over the course of the pandemic. That’s a large portion of the 61% of American adults who participated in the 2021 American Psychological Association poll and reported that they experienced unwanted “pandemic weight changes.” 

So why did so many of us who gained weight also see weight gain in our pups?

Our pups are often right by our sides with tails wagging, begging, or even drooling as we dine. Well, 42% of polled pet parents said they fed their dog table scraps, even though they knew they shouldn’t. Often, we feel like we’re giving our pups a “special treat” by allowing them to clear our plates, but feeding our dogs foods outside of a veterinarian-advised food list is gambling with your best friend’s health. Not only is there a long list of foods that can be harmful to dogs, but feeding our best friends excessive food can lead to immediate weight gain. This can dramatically affect their health. Excessive weight gain in dogs can lead to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, diseases, and a lower overall life expectancy.

Begging for food

Also, 52% of pet parents admitted that they’d fed their dogs extra treats during the pandemic. While we were reaching for an extra slice of that banana bread we finally found the time to bake, many of us slipped our furry friends an extra treat or two. This coupled with less human activity was a recipe for widespread weight gain.

“We think we’re showing pups the extra love they deserve, but in the long run, spoiling them with more treats or letting them finish our meals can actually harm our beloved dogs. The effects of significant weight gain can lead to numerous health problems, like arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart disease, ultimately shortening their life expectancy,” advies Dr. Ryan Gates, a Veterinarian at Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Hospital.

Less human activity led to a 33% drop in doggy exercise, as well. Which makes complete sense. Our pups are quite often velcroed to our sides. So both us and our furry best friends spent far more time cuddled up on the couch than “pre-pandemic.” But there’s great news! Summer has officially arrived, things are opening back up, and we now have ample opportunities to get back outside and moving with our pups. 

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