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One Major Side Effect Your Weight Gain Has on Your Dog's Health, New Data Says

As a reported 42% of Americans packed on unwanted weight in the past year, our dogs are paying the price.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

Having you at home during the pandemic probably made your dog's tail wag. However—even though most Americans say they're feeding their pets better food than ever—new data from a pet health insurance company is revealing how significantly America's poor eating habits have affected our pets' health this past year.

The pet health insurance company Pumpkin.com and Fi, the smart dog technology company, conducted a joint survey that's been released this week. Together, they polled nearly 1,000 dog owners to learn some specifics on how the widespread lack of human diet discipline during the pandemic affected our dogs.

RELATED: 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work

Why was this worth exploring? According to a February 2021 American Psychological Association poll, a remarkable 61% of American adults said they'd experienced unwanted weight changes since the pandemic started, with 42% reporting weight gain that averaged 29 pounds.

Meanwhile, the loosening of our own habits hasn't been good for our furry friends, as comforting as snuggling up together at home may have been. Keep reading to learn about the relationship between your weight gain and your dog's—and to get back on track, don't miss 19 Weight Loss Foods That Really Work, Say Experts.

Also be sure to read 13 Foods Dogs Can't Eat.

Dog and human weight gain went paw-in-hand.

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Pumpkin's poll saw 56% of dog parents reported weight gain for both them and their dogs since the start of the pandemic.

RELATED: The Worst Way To Handle Pandemic Weight Gain, Says Doctor

Treats weren't so sweet.

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Among Pumpkin's respondents, 52% admitted they'd fed extra treats to their dog during the pandemic. (If you want to get moving to trim down on those treats, check out 36 Tips When You're Walking To Lose Weight.)

The table scraps were too much.

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Forty-two percent of poll participants said they'd fed their dog table scraps, even when they knew they shouldn't. (Oh, and if this looks like your table, read up on the one sushi roll you should never order.)

There was some good news for our little guys.

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Pumpkin and Fi report that 36% of pet parents who spent more time at home said their dog's daily step count had gone up during lockdown (while less human activity led to a 33% drop in the pup's exercise as well).

RELATED: Want To Live Longer? Walk This Far Every Day

This was even higher for one group.

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For dog owners who saw lockdown as a chance to intensify their own exercise routine, 66% reported an increase in their pup's activity, too.

Let's get back to the right way to treat our dogs.

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Commenting on the survey, Dr. Ryan Gates, a Veterinarian at Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Hospital, said that even when life gets stressful, strange, or relaxed for us, we need to adhere to guidelines when it comes to our pets' health. "We think we're showing pups the extra love they deserve," Gates says, "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."

Sounds like now's a good time to get the whole family's diet in check. Keep reading:

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at <em>Eat This, Not That!</em>, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more