An Overfeeding Obsession? The Human Psyche and the Pet Obesity Epidemic

Are Vets Fighting an Uphill Battle?

There are more obvious examples to consider, such as the feeding of community cats. Feeding felines on a back porch or in a parking lot is a way of life for some. Is this pure charity? Perhaps. But it may also nourish an obsession to feed an animal every bit as much as the stuffing of one’s personal pets to obese proportions.

Why else would a fat pet be considered socially acceptable enough to shift the "normal" for many breeds toward greater thickness? Why else would thinner pets get clucked over as if they were the sickly ones?

Perhaps this is just American culture. Given that the United States ranked first on the list of most obese countries in a recent study published in The Lancet, the rest of the world may not live with this all-you-can-eat mentality and our dietary obsessions. The rest of humanity may not spend a lazy day feeding cheese food laced with more cheese food to an iguana. (I saw this in action recently in the Florida Keys.) No, this probably doesn’t even occur to most humans outside this country’s four corners.

This impulse to feed things is exactly what I’m up against in my veterinary practice. It’s no wonder that imparting a sense of urgency to the need for weight loss in pets seems so Sisyphean. After all, the obesity epidemic in pets will be depressingly difficult to counter if we all harbor an innate desire to smear Cheez Whiz on a Dorito and feed it to an animal.

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