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In the human space, it’s taken us a long time to truly understand the impact of being overweight or obese and the complicated causes behind that condition. As evidence mounts that pet obesity is increasing at speed, I would contend there is now an urgent need to translate that understanding to the animal world.
The simple reality is that overweight and obese pets have a shorter lifespan and poorer quality of life. That means that it is incumbent upon anyone who wants to make a better world for pets – as we do at Mars Petcare – to address this problem.
Of course, doing so is not a straightforward proposition. If it were, we would not be seeing more and more animals tipping the scales at weights which cause concern. It is clear that what we have all been doing so far is not enough.
That ‘we’ is an all-encompassing one. My colleagues and I often talk and think about the ecosystem of pets – all of the things that make a pet’s life healthy and vibrant. The veterinary healthcare team is of course a crucial part of that ecosystem, and its members will be crucial to addressing obesity.
But we recognise that no one part of the ecosystem is going to be able to solve the issue in isolation. It is going to take partnership. And we believe that companies like Mars Petcare need to be part of that partnership.
It’s why we have worked to create puppy and kitten growth curves, which enable a greater understanding of an animal’s weight and easier pinpointing of the moment at which it becomes a cause for concern. They also provide a helpful means for vets to broach the subject of obesity with owners. After all, this isn’t always an easy conversation to have.
It is also why we have partnered with the BVA and Vet Record on this supplement. The articles within it provide a comprehensive overview of the issue, including the complexity of its causes. Crucially, they also suggest ways in which members of the veterinary healthcare team can address some of those causes. The supplement is full of top tips which are drawn from professionals actually working on addressing obesity. Those professionals are deliberately drawn from across disciplines.
As their reflections show, there is no one silver bullet to the problem of pet obesity. They also show that many of us are going to need to change the way in which we think about this issue if we are truly to make inroads into addressing it.
None of this will be easy. But I think we all know that action is needed. I hope this supplement provides some useful reflections on how we might take that action, together, and that you find it interesting and helpful.
In June, Mars Petcare, the BVA and Vet Record ran a roundtable event to talk through some of the issues covered in this supplement. To see highlights from the debate, visit https://bit.ly/34DZRYZ
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