07 March 2017

HEALTH - Vets Want Pet Obesity Recognized as a Disease

(Fredericton SPCA)
In an October 2016 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 53.9% of dogs and 58.9% of cats were classified as overweight or obese by their veterinary healthcare professional.

“Obesity continues to be the greatest health threat to dogs and cats.” states APOP Founder, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward on their website.

“Obesity is a disease that kills millions of pets prematurely, creates immeasurable pain and suffering, and costs pet owners tens of millions of dollars in avoidable medical costs.”

The American Medical Association officially recognized human obesity as a disease in 2013, and Ward, along with many other veterinarians, wants the same recognition for animals.

Ward is working with nutritionists, surgeons and other veterinary experts on a proposal that could be presented to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as early as this summer.

The proposal will include a general definition of obesity, a clinical definition which includes a standardized body condition score scale, and best practices for treating obese patients and counseling pet owners.

If the AVMA declares that pet obesity is a disease, the hope is for greater awareness and acceptance of the need to diagnose and treat obesity.

More than 100 professionals from human and veterinary medicine, including Ward, attended the first Obesity Conference organized by World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s One Health Committee in November 2016.

The event addressed ways to prevent obesity in people and pets.

Ward believes obesity is a One Health issue since it is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in veterinary and human medicine.

If obesity is officially recognized by the AVMA as a disease, pet insurance companies may cover the condition one day.

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