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Letter published on 16 October 2018, see Animals 2018, 8(10), 179.

Open AccessOpinion
Animals 2018, 8(9), 143;

The Responsibility of Veterinarians to Address Companion Animal Obesity

Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
Institute of Ageing & Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, Neston CH60 5SZ, UK
Institute of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool, Neston CH60 5SZ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 July 2018 / Revised: 11 August 2018 / Accepted: 18 August 2018 / Published: 21 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
Full-Text   |   PDF [201 KB, uploaded 21 August 2018]

Simple Summary

Obesity is a disease of rapidly increasing prevalence in dogs and cats, with significant and often lifelong implications for animal welfare. Veterinarians are expected and mandated to protect animal health and welfare, and provide informed consent. We provide an overview of the causes, risk factors, and consequences of pet obesity; evidence regarding veterinarian compliance in diagnosing and discussing obesity in small animal practice; and outline recommendations to prevent and address overweight and obesity in companion animals. We argue that small-animal veterinarians are not meeting their ethical and professional obligation to speak up about obesity, which is a One-Health problem.


Obesity is a modern-day epidemic in both people and companion animals. A summary of the current research on the causes, risk factors, consequences, and implications of overweight and obesity, and the compliance of small-animal practitioners in recognizing and addressing pet obesity, is provided. Ethical and animal welfare concerns are raised regarding these findings. We argue that a patient advocacy posture compels the veterinary profession to confront this issue more reliably. Evidence is presented to support obesity as a One-Health problem, and discrete and practical recommendations for preventing and addressing companion animal obesity are proposed. The One-Health perspective encourages coordinated action by veterinary healthcare professionals in order to address overweight and obesity in companion animals as a public health concern. View Full-Text
Keywords: ethics; obesity; communication; advocacy; one health ethics; obesity; communication; advocacy; one health
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Kipperman, B.S.; German, A.J. The Responsibility of Veterinarians to Address Companion Animal Obesity. Animals 2018, 8, 143.

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