Veterinarians across the US are noticing weight gain and higher levels of obesity in animal companions since the coronavirus pandemic has began.

“We are seeing reports of more and more veterinarians saying, ‘Look, we’re seeing more weight gain this year than we saw in the prior year,'” Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinary food therapist and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, told CNN in an interview. “(The pandemic) is the perfect storm.”

With fewer activities left to do, more people are snacking at home and less walking outside.

“During COVID, his long walks definitely became shorter,” a pet owner said. “Wanting to limit exposure with other people on the street was one thing — but also, they just weren’t enjoyable anymore. Being around so many people, having to wear a mask… it’s just a different experience.”

Dr. Ward added that stress is another factor.

“When you are stressed or anxious, your brain secretes a whole cascade of neurochemicals that encourage you to eat,” he said, noting that your animal companions definitely pick up on this.

Pet obesity would be dangerous for pets. It can increase an animal’s risk of diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, arthrities and even cancer.

A 2019 study found that overweight dogs’s lifespan was up to two-and-a-half years shorter than canines who have healthy weight.

Taking your companion animal to the veterinarian can help you understand the risk of weight gain.

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