Walking your dog regularly provides a basic foundation for the mental and physical health of the pet. But during the Coronavirus pandemic, when pet owners stopped taking their dogs outside for regular walks or reduced the practice, they noticed specific behavioral change in them besides putting on additional pounds.
A Massachusetts woman, Lisa Allen, who has a six-year-old Pomeranian, named Desi, reduced the walks from three to two a day. She bought pee pads for Desi and started to give him treats when he used them. But in late June, Allen noticed that Desi was having breathing problem.
When she visited the veterinarian, Allen came to know that the tiny dog had gained a pound. She said if that happened to her, she would be "very happy," but when "you are five pounds, that is 20 percent of your weight. It was putting a strain on him."
As per the vet, Allen is not the only one who is noticing this problem with her pet, as this issue is noticed in several cases in the U.S., especially during the pandemic. Since many dog owners are giving more attention to their pets and taking them for frequent walks to boost fitness, in other cases, the changes in their daily lifestyle led the pet owners overfeed the dogs.
Veterinarians and professional dog walkers said due to the lockdown, many people undermined the importance of regular exercise for their dogs, while some overdid this — in both cases, such practices are not ideal for a dog's health.
The Washington-based Banfield Pet Hospital, which has more than 1,000 locations across the country, conducted a survey on pet owners at the end of May. It was about how they were faring during the Coronavirus pandemic and the major outcome was that many people noticed unusual weight gain issues.
Andrea Sanchez, a Banfield veterinarian and senior manager of operations support, said, "It's too soon to tell if the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in weight gain for the average pet." But she said many people said that they thought their pet had gained weight "and it was especially dog owners."
A Tomika Bruen, who owns a dog-walking company in the Los Angeles area, also said dog owners who canceled services for several months had also failed to keep their dogs in shape since they need to walk for 20 minutes to an hour. "The ones that usually get longer walks, I'm noticing that we have to slow down and take breaks. I think their pet parents might take them out for 10 or 15 minutes. They're winded now after 25 or 30 minutes," Bruen said.
Time For Your Fur-Friend
Anne Kimmerlein, a veterinary epidemiologist for VCA Animal Hospitals, confirmed that she too has heard about dogs that have gained weight during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also came to know about the opposite side. "We also have seen anecdotal stories about dogs that were overweight or sedentary, and now, that their owners are at home, they're spending a lot more time playing and walking."
Doug Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association said that the rise in numbers of humans staying at home 24/7 with their dogs is causing more emergency calls to vets for trivial things which simply went unnoticed back when people were out all day. "We're seeing, at my clinic, more vomiting and diarrhea. These are things that maybe the pets would always do, but people weren't around to see it and watch it as closely."