Whilst I was volunteering in Weymouth (see previous post), I caught the train to and from there each day, which always left me with some spare time before and after my shifts. I generally spent this exploring more of Weymouth, taking in the atmosphere and enjoying the fresh air on the beach. One day, whilst I was walking along the Esplanade, I wondered past one of the many huts selling concessions and saw a couple purchasing three ice-creams. Initially I thought nothing of it, until one of them bent down, with one of the Mr. Whippy’s in hand, and gave it to the third member of their party: a St Bernard. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! I’d heard of owners giving their dogs a cup of tea, but an entire ice-cream in one go?! Even though the act was obviously intended as one of compassion, I wondered if treats such as this were a regular occurance and if the owners knew the health implications behind it.
This then got me thinking about pet obesity as a topic in general, particularly in respect to the growing issue of human obesity. I carried out a simple search on the internet to see what there was in terms of news and also any campaigns for this problem in the UK and found exactly that: http://www.pfma.org.uk/pet-obesity-campaign/. I was shocked to learnt the full extent of the problem when I read in the opening paragraph that roughly 1/3 of pets in this country are classed as overweight. I also found it interesting how it also states that roughly 2/3′s of people are obese, and I believe that there is a strong link between these two figures.
There is a strong campaign in the media against human obesity, but the same problem in animals is one which doesn’t attract nearly as much publicity. It goes without saying that approaching people about their own obesity as well as their pets’ is a sensitive area, but I believe there is grounds on which to promote tackling both. Owning a dog is potentially a fantastic way to get regular exercise during daily walks, but even spending time playing with any pet everyday can make a good contribution to fitness for both parties. Diet is also obviously a major factor in the cause of this problem, something which I believe is mainly due to a lack of awareness by owners. This is something the PFMA obesity campaign aims to change by publishing information on their website along with a series of ‘Pet Size-O-Meter’s’ for various species to enable owners to identify whether or not their pet is of a healthy weight.
However, although this company is taking a stand, I’d never heard of them, their work, or how serious this problem was until I searched for ‘pet obesity campaign’ online. This is therefore something which I hope to see greater publicity to in the future in order to combat this issue before it escalades out of control.