Chew the fat: Team members on pet obesity

Chew the fat: Team members on pet obesity

When "big-boned" doesn't cover a pet's condition anymore, veterinary team members say conversations about pet obesity are important ... but not with every client.
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Aug 01, 2010
By dvm360.com staff
We are a fat nation. More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than one-third are obese. If estimates from Dr. Ernie Ward of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention are right, our cats and dogs are following our lead into inactivity, too much food, and calorie-rich food.
 


The complete package:
Do you think obesity is a serious problem for the pet population?
What percentage of dogs is obese?
What percentage of cats is obese?
How important is it to discuss obesity with pet owners?
With what percentage of veterinary clients do you discuss pet obesity?
Take action and raise awareness with your clients

You know extra weight on pets is a problem and can lead to increased risk of osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, kidney disease, and more. But you're not talking to as many clients as you say you should.

Most of you think it's very important to discuss pet obesity with clients. But the number of clients you say you share the message with are lower than they should be—by your own admission.



The complete package:
Do you think obesity is a serious problem for the pet population?
What percentage of dogs is obese?
What percentage of cats is obese?
How important is it to discuss obesity with pet owners?
With what percentage of veterinary clients do you discuss pet obesity?
Take action and raise awareness with your clients

To send a truly effective message to clients, you need to work with your doctors to build pet exercise, nutrition, and healthy weight into your "clinic vernacular," Dr. Ward says.

Talk about it even with clients whose pets are at a good weight today but might not be tomorrow. It doesn't need to take a lot of time and effort: Remark on a pet's weight gain or loss as appropriate in the exam room and help reinforce your practice's message of healthy weight for all pets by sharing your own stories of pets struggling with too much food, the wrong food, or not enough exercise.

"You have much more opportunity to intervene in pet health through weight loss than through more expensive treatments like dentistry," Dr. Ward says.

The relatively cheap cost of an increase in exercise and a decrease in food intake can bring a pet back down to a svelte weight. Little changes can make a big difference. You'll also have the opportunity to affect "both ends of the leash," Dr. Ward says. "A dog will take an owner for a walk and reduce their stress, their blood pressure, and improve their health."


The complete package:
Do you think obesity is a serious problem for the pet population?
What percentage of dogs is obese?
What percentage of cats is obese?
How important is it to discuss obesity with pet owners?
With what percentage of veterinary clients do you discuss pet obesity?
Take action and raise awareness with your clients

Dr. Ernie Ward has been sounding the alarm about the pet obesity epidemic for years now. You can read his on-target advice for improving pet fitness at your practice and talking sensitively to clients about pet obesity—especially if you or the client is overweight.

Click here to read "Obesity: A Big Problem."

You'll also find client handouts for dog food and activity logs, dog-walking programs, and the calorie content of some common treats.

To raise awareness among your clients and team members about pet obesity, and to help determine current pet obesity rates, be sure to sign up to collect data on National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Oct. 13, 2010. The initiative to gather up-to-date numbers is organized by Dr. Ward’s Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. To help or learn more, visit petobesityprevention.com.


The complete package:
Do you think obesity is a serious problem for the pet population?
What percentage of dogs is obese?
What percentage of cats is obese?
How important is it to discuss obesity with pet owners?
With what percentage of veterinary clients do you discuss pet obesity?
Take action and raise awareness with your clients