In many households, dogs are held in the same regard as the kiddos. These funny and affectionate creatures burrow their way into our hearts, and we as pet parents want to do everything we can to ensure they live a long and happy life. 

At Puppo, we help pet parents achieve this goal by providing customized nutrition plans based on a comprehensive quiz that surfaces the unique health goals and concerns (e.g. weight management, healthy joints, shiny coat, etc.) for each dog at an individual level. Based on quiz data from over 70,000 pet parents from the past two years, we’re able to examine which aspects of their dog’s health are considered the most important overall, plus how that varies by a dog’s gender and size. 

Of course, all pet parents want their pups to be healthy, but what it means to achieve health can vary. 

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What pet parents care about most when it comes to their pup’s health

In our quiz, we ask pet parents how they’re thinking about the following health considerations:

- Weight management - ensuring your pup stays in the ideal weight range for their breed and age. 

- Solid poops - a signifier of a healthy digestive system.

- Puppy growth - providing young pups with the nutrition they need as they grow.

- Clean teeth - maintaining baseline dental hygiene can prevent more serious health issues down the road.

- Reducing gas - a sign something might be off with your pup’s digestive system, but also very stinky. 

- Exercise - making sure your pup gets the activity needed to keep them healthy and happy.

- Fresh breath - excessively bad breath can be a sign of more serious health issues, but again, also very stinky… in your face. 

- Healthy joints - helping your pup stay active without pain, even as they get older. 

- Shiny coat - showing off their shiny coats at the park, a sign of health, but also a sign that they’re very loved and taken care of. 

- Healthy skin - keeping skin healthy to reduce the risk of infection. 

Of all of these health considerations, these are the concerns at the forefront of pet parent’s minds: 

Top Overall Dog-Parent Concerns

Based on quiz results, pet parents are equally concerned about their dog’s joint and skin health, followed by achieving and maintaining a shiny coat. 

Joint pain from arthritis and bone degradation are common issues for dogs, especially as they enter their twilight years. It’s important to consider joint health early in a dog’s life, as it’s difficult to repair joint issues once they’ve begun to occur. 

In regards to skin and coat health, it’s worth noting that, like humans, any problems are often a sign of an underlying issue, but they also play a preventative role. For dogs, the skin and coat are their largest organ, typically making up about 10-15% of their total body weight. They serve as a protective agent against environmental stressors, as well as preventing loss of water through the skin. When a dog’s skin immunity is compromised, they’re more at risk for infections and diseases from harmful bacteria. Signs that there might be an issue with your pup’s skin include, but aren’t limited to, itchiness, red spots, dandruff, or excessive shedding. If you notice any of these issues, be sure to consult your veterinarian, who may recommend a prescribed medication, supplements, or a specific diet. 

How pet parents’ concerns evolved over the past couple of years

Inarguably, the year 2020 looked very different than the year prior. The lockdowns and safety measures implemented due to COVID-19 resulted in shifts to many facets (and priorities) of our daily lives. For instance, people were more inclined to order everyday items — like groceries, alcohol, and dog food — for delivery to their homes rather than heading out to the store. 

People also had to find ways to stay active (for themselves and for their dogs) without venturing too far from their homes. Whereas only 12% of pet parents said they felt their dogs needed to lose weight in 2019, 16% of pet parents shared that concern in 2020. 

Meanwhile, all of this staying at home made many people realize that they wanted to add a new dog to their family, and adoptions boomed. This trend was clear in Puppo’s quiz data. Whereas 27% of pet parents were concerned about puppy growth in 2019, the same was true for 32% in 2020, suggesting that more pet owners were raising puppies than the year prior. 

Meeting your pup’s unique needs: A look at health concerns by gender and size 

Dogs come in all different shapes and sizes, and so do their health considerations. Part of our process for providing truly unique nutritional guidance is making sure we’re looking out for the health considerations based on their gender, age, and size, among other factors. 

Pet parent’s concerns don’t differ too wildly when it comes to male vs. female dogs

One aspect that doesn’t appear to drastically alter pet parents’ concerns is gender. We can, however, see some very slight differences. For instance, more pet parents show a priority for weight loss in female dogs (15%) than male dogs (12%). We also found that more pet parents with male dogs say they’re concerned about puppy growth (29%) than those with female dogs (27%). And further proving that boys can be smellier than girls, 21% of pet parents with a male dog were concerned about reducing gas, compared to only 19% of female dog owners. 

There are also a few health concerns where gender makes no difference, especially regarding the top overall concerns, including healthy joints (60%), healthy skin (60%), and shiny coat (53%).

Health concerns differ most when it comes to a pup’s size

An important factor to consider when providing health recommendations for a pup is their size. At Puppo, we consider pups in one of five size categories:

- Extra small (XS) - under 15 lb.
- Small (S) - 16-25 lb.
- Medium (M) - 26-50 lb.
- Large (L) - 51-100 lb.
- Extra large (XL) - 101+ lb.
Pet parents with extra-large dogs are more concerned about healthy joints

It’s known that most breeds that can grow to be extra large, like labrador retrievers, are more prone to health issues related to their joints. By combining data regarding a dog’s breed and their size within that breed, Puppo is able to proactively provide nutrition recommendations based on these common concerns. 

Clean teeth is a bigger consideration for pet parents with smaller dogs

While dental issues can wreak havoc for all dogs, small dog breeds are more susceptible to dental disease because of the anatomy of their mouths. In line with this concern, we’re also seeing the same trend hold true for concerns regarding fresh breath. Whereas 54% of pet parents with extra small dogs and 51% with small dogs are concerned about their pups having fresh breath, only 35% of pet parents with extra-large dogs share that same concern.

Pet parents become more concerned about reducing gas the larger their dogs get

Taking a look at larger dogs, pet parents are showing more concern with gas reduction. As much as we love our big fur babies, the more they share our beds, couches, and other personal spaces, we appreciate more snuggles and less gas. 

Pet Parents Just Want the Best for Their Pups 

While specific concerns can vary, one thing holds true: pet parents dedicated to their pup’s health and wellbeing just want what’s best for them. Finding a great veterinarian who can guide you in providing the best care for your pup is a must-have, but there are plenty of other resources out there that can also help along the way. 

Puppo helps pet parents find unique solutions and meal plans for every dog’s unique needs. Take our quiz to get started today. Not only will we simplify feeding your dog the optimal food in the right quantities, but we’ll also provide expert advice for all aspects of their health, including treat suggestions and behavioral support. 

Puppo meets the needs of a variety of pups at different stages