Introduction: Obesity is a major health problem in developed countries, in the human as well as in the dog population. Despite this fact, only a limited number of surveys is available concerning the actual prevalence of and the risk factors for obesity in dog. The aims of this study were to assess the prevalence of overweight/obesity and to depict risk factors for this condition in Austria.
Material and Methods: Between July and November 2008, owners of adult dogs attending eight different veterinary practices in different regions of Austria and a national dog show were asked to estimate the body weight of their dogs and the Body Condition Score (BCS) according to a five point scale. They filled out a questionnaire regarding their dog (age, gender, feeding, exercise) and their own social status and life style. The dogs body weight was measured and the BCS was assessed by a trained professional.
Results: In total, 213 questionnaires were used for statistical analysis. This study reports a prevalence of overweight/obesity in Austrian dogs of 34 %. Risk factors for overweight and obesity were being female spayed; having an overweight, elderly, male owner; being the only pet in the household; living with the same owner for more than one year; living in a household with four or more persons; being fed only once a day; being fed according to the instructions of the pet food company; having unlimited access to food other than dog food; and not being engaged in any kind of dog sport. In addition, the life style of the dog and the health awareness of its owner seem to play a role in development of obesity.