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Jason Eberly/Marc Vasquez
Geoff Howe Marketing Communications for Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc.
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American Veterinary Medical Association
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Leading Experts in Pet Wellness Team Up to Increase Awareness of Obesity
American Veterinary Medical Association and Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. form the Alliance for Healthier Pets
TOPEKA, Kan., (January 20, 2008) - Each year a growing number of dogs and cats become overweight or obese which can lead to significant, life-threatening health issues. For a variety of reasons it can be difficult for health care teams to talk with their clients about making proper pet weight loss and weight management lifestyle changes.1 As an active response to this growing epidemic, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. have formed the Alliance for Healthier Pets - Obesity Awareness Program designed to equip veterinary health care teams with the means to educate their clients on the health implications caused by obesity.
The Big Problem
According to the Centers for Disease Control, during the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in men and women in the United States.2 While this epidemic has garnered nationwide media attention, similar problems among the American pet population have gone largely unnoticed.
"The purpose of this Alliance is to provide veterinary health care team members with creative tools that will assist them in educating their clients. Through the adoption of proper nutrition, increased physical activity and regular veterinary visits, owners can help their best friends live longer and healthier lives," said Gregory S. Hammer, D.V.M., president of the AVMA. "This is based on the scientific evidence that obesity is not just an appearance problem; it is a condition that can lead to serious disease."
Equipped with the passion of the AVMA's mission of "improving animal, human and public health," as well as that of Hill's "to enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets," the two organizations seek to support, educate and create a desire for veterinary professionals to engage pet owners in conversations regarding a proper weight management program for their at-risk patients. The emphasis will be directed at promoting positive weight management behaviors by combining veterinary health care team communication and pet owner compliance, proper nutrition, daily fitness and regular weight examinations.
"Pet obesity continues to be a condition more veterinary health care teams find during pet examinations, and there is a need to help owners understand the ramifications," said Christine Jenkins, D.V.M., DACVIM, director of Academic Affairs at Hill's. "We are excited to team up with the AVMA to help impact the lives of pets in need of a weight lifestyle change."
The Oversized Truth
A weight management study concluded that compared with cats of optimal weight, obese cats are more than twice as likely to develop skin conditions, four times as likely to develop diabetes mellitus and five times as likely to develop lameness requiring veterinary treatment.3 Likewise, another study showed that dogs fed to maintain an ideal weight can live longer, healthier lives.
"If we are to truly help the pets we love who suffer from obesity, the time is now," said Janet Donlin, D.V.M., chief of Veterinary Business Channel at Hill's. "As veterinary professionals, we have an obligation to do our part to help pet owners take steps toward forging a healthier tomorrow for their dogs and cats."
How Fit is Your Pet?
The 2008 Obesity Awareness and Prevention Kit is now available for veterinary health care teams to utilize for their weight management efforts. The kit contains materials which can be used to help initiate dialog with pet owners regarding pet obesity and how to help pets lose weight.
Additionally, the 2008 PetFit&trade Challenge has begun. The PetFit Challenge encourages veterinary health care teams and their clients to make positive changes in their pet's weight management lifestyle through regular veterinary weigh-ins, feeding the right food, monitored feeding and championing regular physical fitness. Fitness expert Gunnar Petersen is kicking off the PetFit Challenge in Los Angeles, California, by hosting a people and pet fitness event.
The PetFit Challenge has drawn so much interest that the Alliance is set to launch the PetFit&trade Tour the last week of January. The PetFit Tour is a mobile resource visiting 18 U.S. cities to raise awareness of the health risks associated with pet obesity, the importance of veterinary visits, feeding the right nutrition and encouraging pet owners to increase playtime with their pets. The PetFit Tour will begin in Miami, Fla., January 29, and make its way through the U.S. making stops in major cities from the east to west coast through October 2008.
Veterinary health care teams can request their Obesity Awareness and Prevention Kit and learn more about the PetFit Challenge and PetFit Tour by calling 1-888-7-PET-FIT or by visiting PetFit.com. PetFit.com also contains Gunnar's fitness tips, information on the PetFit Tour's full schedule, locations and times, success stories from past PetFit Challenge winners Milo and Pumpkin and will soon feature multimedia highlights of tour events as they become available.
About the American Veterinary Medical Association
The AVMA, founded in 1863, is the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 75,000 member veterinarians engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. AVMA members are dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine including its relationship to animal, human and public health. Visit AVMA.org to learn more about veterinary medicine and animal care and to access up-to-date information on the association's issues, policies and activities.
About Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc.
Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. manufactures Prescription Diet® brand pet foods, therapeutic pet foods available only through veterinarians, and Science Diet® brand pet foods sold through veterinarians and finer pet specialty stores. Founded more than 60 years ago with a unique commitment to pet nutrition and well-being, Hill's has never wavered from its mission to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets. Hill's produces high-quality, great-tasting pet foods owners can trust and provide to their canine and feline companions as part of a veterinary health care team recommendation. This ultimately improves patient health and the health of the practice. For more information on Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. and Hill's Evidence-Based Clinical Nutrition&trade visit HillsVet.com.
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- Lund EM, Armstrong PJ, Kirk CA, et al. Health status and population characteristics of dogs and cats examined at private veterinary practices in the United States. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999; 214: 1336-1341.
- Centers for Disease Control Web site. U.S. Obesity Trends 1985-2006. Available at: www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/index.htm. Accessed December 6, 2007.
- Scarlett JM, Donoghue S. Associations between body condition and disease in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212(11):1725-1731.
- RD Kealy, DF Lawler, JM Ballam, SL Mantz, DN Biery, et al. Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs. J AM Vet Med Assoc 2002 May 1; 220(9): 1315-20.
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