How to Combat Pet Obesity During Lockdown | Hill's Transforming Lives

COVID-19 fuels pet obesity

COVID-19 has had a profound effect on all of us including our pets, with recent research* undertaken in the US revealing that more than 71% of pet professionals say that the pandemic has impacted the way our pets are eating. As a result of this, over 30% of pet parents surveyed who have an overweight pet, say that their pet has become overweight since the start of the pandemic. Many of us have an emotional relationship with food so it is not surprising that we have developed this for our pets too during these tough times when we are spending more time at home.  


50% of pets are overweight, but alarmingly 90% of pet parents don’t even realise this. For many pet parents the love for their pets is associated with food. “This ‘Love your pet day’ celebrated on 20th February, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is drawing attention to pet obesity and that, contrary to popular belief, your pet’s love for you is not associated with food,” says Marycke Ackhurst pet behaviour expert from Hill’s.  


Food is often seen as a means of emotional support – using food as a reward, when we are feeling depressed, lonely or celebrating. Pet parents get an emotional boost when feeding or giving treats to their pet. Our pet’s reaction is seen as a display of love and affection, and we are afraid that changing our pet’s feeding habits could result in our pet not loving us as much.  


“Having an emotional relationship with food can both create the problem of pet obesity and ultimately solve it by changing what’s in their bowl,” says Ackhurst, “food is actually love, and one of the easiest steps is to start with better nutrition and to be more aware of your feeding habits and the impact these have on your pet.” 


So, what would you give-up to help your pet lose weight? A recent survey undertaken by Hill’s showed that:


In addition, vets advise pet parents of the following to help manage their pet’s weight:


“Hill’s has always been committed to ending pet obesity and helping our pet parents give their pets a healthy long life while still being able to express their love,” says Ackhurst. “If you are unsure as to whether your pet is overweight, visit your vet, who will then do a weight check and advise you on the best steps to take should your pet be overweight.”


For more information on pet obesity, weight management and the success thousands of pets have enjoyed on the Hill’s Pet Slimmer Programme visit


Media enquiries

Julia Rice | Republic PR | 011 682 1976 | [email protected]


*Survey Methodology 

The Hill’s Pet Nutrition Survey was conducted by Kelton Global (, among 1,021 U.S. dog and cat owners and 257 veterinarians. The study was fielded between November 23 and November 30, 2020, using an email invitation and an online survey. The margin of error for the U.S. dog and cat owners audience is 3.1 percent; the margin of error for the veterinarian's audience is 6.1 percent. The margin of error for any subgroups within a respective audience will be slightly higher.

Date Published: 29 February 2024