Leading animal welfare charity to spotlight pet obesity at BVNA Congress Fringe

30 September 2019

University of Liverpool professor Alex German and veterinary nurse Josephine Oakden will be debating ways to understand and tackle the pet obesity crisis in a BVNA Congress Fringe session chaired by the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) on 12 October, the day after World Obesity Day.

‘The elephant in the consult room- we are failing obese pets’ will discuss varying approaches to understanding pet obesity and collaboratively explore ways in which the veterinary professions can tackle the issue.

While Dr German, a Professor of Small Animal Medicine at the University of Liverpool, will argue for obesity to be understood and treated as a disease, British Veterinary Nursing Association Council Member Ms Oakden will explore obesity as a symptom of malnutrition. AWF Trustees Julian Kupfer and Rebecca Schofield will facilitate the discussion.

AWF Chair of Trustees Chris Laurence said:

“The AWF session at BVNA Fringe promises lots of interesting and stimulating conversations, so I’d like to invite all those attending BVNA Congress to drop in.

“Recent research funded by AWF and surveys of the veterinary professions have identified obesity as one of the biggest health and welfare concerns facing our nation’s pets. Through this session, we want to not only challenge delegates’ own opinions on the subject, but also to share potential actions that can be employed in practice, including how to have supportive and non-stigmatising conversations about pet obesity with clients.”

In BVA and BVNA’s recent Voice of the Veterinary Profession surveys, published in the 2018 PAW Report, vets and vet nurses estimated that 46% of the dogs, 34% of cats and 30% of rabbits they see in their practice each week are overweight or obese, with a significant proportion citing an increase over the previous two years. They also estimated that around half (47%) of the overweight and obese dogs, 35% of cats and 36% of rabbits they see in their practice have health issues which could be related to their weight.

A more recent report by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association found that almost 7 in 10 (68%) pet owners think their pet is exactly the right size, while 100% of vets are concerned about the prevalence of obesity. 

BVNA Congress will take place from 11-13 October at Telford International Centre, Shropshire. AWF’s session on pet obesity is scheduled from 2pm-3.30pm on 12 October in Beckbury Suite and is open to all Congress delegates. 

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