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Overfed and underexercised, dogs putting on pandemic pounds…

By late June, Desi was having trouble breathing. A routine visit to the veterinarian revealed that the tiny dog had gained a pound.“If I only gained a pound, I’d be very happy,” Allen said. “But when you’re 5 pounds, that’s 20 percent of your weight. It was putting strain on him.”The problem, the vet said, was one familiar to millions of Americans and a growing number of their pet dogs: a routine upended by covid-19. In many cases, housebound humans are giving their dogs more attention and walks, boosting fitness for pets and people alike. But in others, veterinarians and professional dog walkers say, the changes have led to overfed and either underexercised or overwalked dogs — and to new joint problems and obesity.Banfield Pet Hospital, which has more than 1,000 locations across the United States, surveyed pet owners at the end of May about how they were faring during the pandemic. Many reported pudgier pets.“It’s too soon to tell if the covid crisis has resulted in weight gain for the average pet,” said Andrea Sanchez, a Banfield veterinarian and senior manager of operations support. But of 1,000 respondents, she said, “33 percent said they thought their pet had gained weight — and it was especially dog owners.”Tomika Bruen, who owns a dog-walking company in the Los Angeles area, said that when her clients began calling her back recently to take their dogs out, she detected not only twinges and soreness among the
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