The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) hosted a Pet Obesity Question Time to discuss a collaborative way to tackle the issue.
PFMA brought together guests from the pet care sector on March 13 to throw the spotlight on pet obesity and discuss how the sector could work collaboratively for a leaner, healthier future for pets.
The Pet Obesity Question Time launched the start of PFMA’s #GetPetsFit campaign.
On the day of the debate, PFMA released its report “Pet Obesity: Five Years On”, which highlighted that 77% of vets believe pet obesity is increasing.
Chaired by Mary Sharrock (PFMA chairman), the panel included a behaviourist and vet experts from academia, industry, the retail and charity sectors.
The audience of almost 100 guests included pet food manufacturers, trade bodies, the veterinary profession, retailers and welfare charities.
Philippa Yam, senior lecturer in small animal science, at the University of Glasgow veterinary school, set the scene by emphasising the gravity of pet obesity and how it affects quality and quantity of life.
Estimates indicate veterinary treatment related to obesity costs owners around £215 million a year.
Dr Yam reported the comparative figure for the human sector was £6.4 billion where obesity is overtaking smoking as the number one preventable disease affecting the nation.
The importance of continued education was clear and ideas for further exploration included:
-Tackling the limited understanding of correct portion sizes and making it easier for owners to follow feeding guidelines
-Promoting healthy body shapes to prevent the shift in the norm towards overweight pets
-Supporting vet students understanding of the importance of nutrition and the science behind it so these messages can be passed on to owners.
Peter Neville of The Centre of Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE) advised: “There is an innate mammalian psychological need to feed and care for our young.
“Our pets also prompt and fuel this need in us and and it is fulfilling this need that can cause us to feed them too much, which leads to obesity
“Loving our pets this way is to give them a condition that will actually shorten their lives and make them far less rewarding. This cannot be the way to love our pets.”
The report and more information can be downloaded from www.pfma.org.uk