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J Small Anim Pract. 2011 Dec;52(12):622-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-5827.2011.01138.x. Epub 2011 Oct 22.

Canine obesity: is there a difference between veterinarian and owner perception?

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University of Nottingham, School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire.



The overall aim of this study was to examine the nature of the relationship between dog-ownership and canine obesity, explored in two cohorts of overweight/obese or non-overweight dogs (n=125). This paper concentrates on the owners' perception of dog weight.


A researcher-mediated questionnaire was used to collect data from dog owners attending a small veterinary practice. Interviewees (n=121) were asked qualitative and quantitative questions, designed to examine the owners' views of their relationship with their dogs.


Although a high proportion of owners claimed to have discussed the dog's weight with their veterinarian, some discrepancies were apparent between owner perception of animal weight and the veterinarian's evaluation of body condition score. Owner disagreement was significantly greater for the veterinarian-defined overweight dogs (P=0·005). Owners often provide personal narratives to account for their dog's weight status.


This study confirms the important role of the vet in providing information about the issue of dog weight but also suggests that providing verbal information is sometimes insufficient. The study also indicates the potential value of qualitative research methods to further understand client perception of complex animal care issues and highlights the need for further in-depth research.

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