A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that overweight or obese dogs were more likely to have overweight or obese owners.
One of the reasons that this is the case is that overweight owners are more likely to provide treats to dogs to relax.
Dog owners with a normal weight "tend to use treats for training purposes," said lead author Charlotte R. Bjørnvad from the university's Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences.
"For example, when a person is relaxing on the couch and shares the last bites of a sandwich or a cookie with their dog," Bjørnvad said in a statement.
Researchers studied 268 adult dogs in Denmark, of which 20.5% were heavy or obese.
The prevalence of overweight dogs was more than twice as large among overweight owners than those who have a normal or slim weight.
"Oftentimes, people don’t consider their dog’s weight status to be a problem. And this might contribute to a dog’s being overweight. Being heavy or obese does have a great impact on dog health – which on average results in a shortened lifespan", Peter Sandøe, a co-author from the Department of Food and Resource Economics said.
A "novel" finding of the study, researchers said, was that neutered male dogs were more likely to be overweight or obese but that sterilisation did not have an impact on female dogs.
Researchers warned that dog owners should be wary of what they feed their dogs after castration.
This is the first study on dog obesity in the country, the university said.
In Western countries, 20 to 59% of companion dogs are overweight or obese which is "the most frequent form of malnutrition", the study intro states.