A recent survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) suggests that pet obesity remains a major problem for many pets — and a lack of knowledge among pet owner may be a contributing factor.
According to the survey, approximately 54% of dogs and 59% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese. The survey also asked pet owners and veterinarians about their perceptions regarding pet foods and ingredients. Overall, consumers’ perceptions differed dramatically from those of veterinarians. Among the findings, 48% of veterinarians believe that corn is healthy for dogs compared to only 6% of owners. Regarding whether low/no-grain diets are healthier for dogs, 25% of veterinarians agreed compared to 61% of owners. As for whether raw diets are healthier for dogs and cats, only 15% of veterinarians agreed compared to 35% of owners.
While appropriate diet and exercise are essential in keeping pet weights within healthy ranges, pet owners with misperceptions about which foods and ingredients are healthy and appropriate for their pets may do more harm than good when selecting a diet for their pets. Improving communication between pet owners and veterinarians about pet diets may be one important part of helping owners make smarter decisions for their pets, but it may not be the only one. According to Kelly Ison, the founder and CEO of Einstein Pets, attempts to educate and inform must go deeper.
“When we talk about educating the consumer, I think that’s our first goal. But the underlying problem we also have to educate is the retail space. If we’re not educating them about why they should point consumers in a certain direction, it doesn’t do any good. You can educate the consumer all you want, but if they’re going to walk into a retail store and buy something, and the retailer directs them to another line, and they don’t know what the owner is already feeding their pets, it just goes right out the window.”
— Kelly Ison, Founder and CEO, Einstein Pets
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