If you’ve ever caught yourself staring at — and comparing yourself to — the cover model on any of the magazines in the checkout aisle, you’re not alone. Apparently we’re doing that very thing to our dogs, too.
A new study in the British Veterinary Association’s journal Veterinary Record suggests that dog owners compare their own pets’ bodies to the show dogs that obediently prance through televised events like Crufts, the United Kingdom’s national dog show. The problem is that some of those show dogs are overweight — including some popular breeds like Basset Hounds, Labrador Retrievers and Pugs — so owners might be less likely to believe their veterinarians when they say that Mr. Sniffles could lose a few pounds.
The study’s authors looked at 1,120 pictures of 28 different breeds who competed at Crufts. Eligibility of a dog’s photo for the study depended on several factors, including that the dog placed from first through fifth for its class at Crufts from 2001 through 2013. The study determined that more than a quarter of them were too heavy.
So how do you prevent your own dog from being one of those statistics? By focusing on what he’s eating.
“Keeping check on exactly what you feed really helps,” vet and study author Alexander German told the New York Times. “Weigh out meal portions accurately so you know what you are feeding, and avoid treats, especially table scraps and human food.”
And don’t worry about whether he looks like the dogs you see on TV.