A Dog's Life

Family Obesity Extends to Our Beloved Critters

For two days in Atlanta, we are seeing a nearly perfect intersection between personal health, family health, and the health of our beloved critters in obesity. Two days of paired presentations – animal health and human health – are exploring the full spectrum of physiological, sociological, and psychological aspects of obesity. The parallels are stunning.

Manny Gets a TreatRates of obesity in small animals – both cats and dogs – are rising in lockstep with humans. Veterinarians are seeing an alarming increase in obesity so severe that the affected cats and dogs cannot move around, cannot function, and can become impossible to care for.

Recognition of obesity in cats and dogs is a problem for veterinarians on many levels. Though it is dramatically shortening the lives of cats and dogs, obesity is seldom noted in an animal’s health record. It’s even harder for a pet owner to acknowledge or discuss obesity with the veterinarian. The very word obesity might lead a pet owner to never return to the practice.

But the most interesting and challenging aspect of obesity in humans and their beloved critters is the coincidence of obesity between a pet and an owner. Veterinarians at the One Health Obesity Conference of the WSAVA report that this coincidence challenges them daily. Very frequently, an owner with severe obesity presents a pet with severe obesity. The roots of the problem might be slightly different, but both the human and the critter share the same problem.

A vet can very easily offend an owner when addressing obesity in a beloved pet. These owners identify almost completely with their cats and dogs.

If the solutions are obvious – family-based care for obesity – the specifics are not.

Family-based obesity care is taking root in pediatrics. Thought leaders have realized that stopping the progression of obesity in children means providing care for the whole family. Evidence-based family interventions are the subject of intense research.

Applying the One Health concept of human and animal health is at a much earlier stage in obesity. But you can be sure that it will come.

Our health is tightly intertwined with the health of our beloved creatures. Obesity provides the perfect case study.

Click here for more about the WSAVA One Health Obesity Conference. Click here for more on obesity in our beloved critters. For more about the One Health concept of human and animal health, click here.

A Dog’s Life, photograph © Richard Walker / flickr

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November 11, 2016

One Response to “Family Obesity Extends to Our Beloved Critters”

  1. November 12, 2016 at 11:12 am, Allen Browne said:


    Thanks again. My vet and I were talking about this and now I have some references for her. My coon cats say thanks, too.