Getting Serious About Excess

By Graham Garrison

April 9th

In a Vet-Advantage column a couple years ago, Patrick Malone shared some insight that he had received from a mentor, who told him “a problem isn’t a problem until there is the realization that it is a problem.”

I thought about that as I read Banfield Pet Hospital’s third annual Veterinary Emerging Topics (VET)® Report. The U.S. is facing an epidemic of overweight and obese pets, yet in many cases, veterinarians and owners don’t have serious conversations on weight management until the excess body weight is visible, meaning a larger amount of weight needing to be lost and decreasing the chance of successfully reaching an ideal body weight, according to the report. Similarly, many pets are not assessed for or diagnosed with OA until they have developed the clinical signs of lameness and/or decreased mobility.

So, how does the animal health industry better illustrate the problem to pet owners, and then the benefits to managing their pet’s weight? One avenue is to highlight the pet’s pain or discomfort that’s being caused by the excess weight. 

“We chose to shift the focus of conversation to the pain/discomfort associated with OA to provide a more tangible reason for owners to prioritize their pet’s weight loss,” says Emi Saito, VMD, a senior manager of veterinary research programs at Banfield Pet Hospital. “OA and excess fat are inextricably linked; a research study found obese dogs that lost weight showed improvement in clinical signs due to OA and quality of life. Given owners don’t want to see their pets in pain, we are hopeful that by appealing to their desire to keep their pets happy and comfortable, they can begin to understand why their pet’s weight loss is so important.”