Hi, my name is Robin and I have an overweight dog.
Well, apparently I’m not the only one. We now have some numbers to confirm what we already suspected. Our pets are just as fat as we are.
A new study commissioned by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention along with Mars Inc. and Banfield Pet Hospital confirms that more than half of all dogs and cats are overweight and that one in five pets are obese (defined as 30% or more above normal body weight).
And guess why? Go ahead, just try to guess.
Yes, we’re feeding our pets too much and they don’t get enough exercise. Sound familiar?
Veterinarians have traditionally been loathe to talk with their clients about their pets’ weight issues, particularly if the client is a bit portly herself (or himself).
But I think there’s another dimension that veterinarians recognize about their pet owners and their pets—that many pet owners equate feeding their pets with love. I love my pet and want to give her the very best, so I feed her what I’m eating. Awww, Sophie looks all grouchy and sad watching me eat. She must be hungry. Come here, sweetie, I have a little something for you.
Sound familiar again?
Banfield is now rolling out software in its 770 hospitals to assist veterinarians in giving Body Condition Scores of 1 (too thin) to 5 (obese). (They need software to determine if a pet is obese?)
Okay, the software is easy. The conversation is hard. I saw it in my own veterinarian as he tried to tell me my dog is fat. (Yes there really is a Sophie.) I’m not at all overweight, but he was very hesitant to tell me that Sophie needs to get off the couch and I need to put up the treat jar.
It’s not just nifty software that veterinarians need, it’s guts and communications skills to explain that weight isn’t just about being on the cover of the Dog Fancy magazine. Just as with people pets carrying around extra baggage are more susceptible to a host of health problems. See, was that so hard to read?
You can read the full Wall Street Journal article here.