According to the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention, the obesity epidemic widely reported among cats and dogs may extend to other companions animals as well, including birds and reptiles.
In correspondence with Petfood Industry, Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention founder Ernie Ward stated that veterinarians suggest that instances of obesity among exotic animals may be underreported and underdiagnosed. Part of the problem, according to Ward, is that obesity assessment tools are inadequate for most exotic animals. While veterinarians have standardized tools for assessing obesity among cats and dogs, similar standards have not yet been agreed upon for birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
“We need better assessment tools and treatment regimens for avian, small mammal and reptile obesity. The first step is to standardize terminology and assessment tools, similar to what we’re doing with the Global Pet Obesity Initiative.”
— Ernie Ward, Founder, the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention
Ward’s statements follow increased pressure for veterinarians to develop comprehensive approaches to combat obesity among pets. At a presentation given during the Future of Animal Companionship Conference last month, University of Liverpool Professor of Small Animal Medicine, Alex German, along with ConscienHealth‘s Ted Kyle made a number of recommendations for veterinarians to adopt to better address pet obesity. Among those recommendations were calls to develop better evidence-based strategies for preventing obesity, to reframe conversations between veterinarians and clients about obesity, and to formally define obesity as a disease.