Killing with Kindness
It’s predictably sad that those parts of the UK with the most overweight adults also have the most overweight pets, (www.dognutritionguide.co.uk/dog-obesity).
As a nation seemingly obsessed with snacking, the equation of unhealthy additions to our own diet as “treats” may be contributing significantly reducing the quality of our lives – as well as those of our companion animals.
In Scotland, around 30% of dogs are deemed overweight or obese and, according to Professor Jacky Reid, CEO of animal wellbeing measurement specialists, NewMetrica, this can not only reduce the quality of life of our canine companions, but contribute to an early death.
“The UK is well recognised as a nation of pet-lovers. For many, dogs are part of the family and live closely beside us within the family unit. Unfortunately, this also means many are equally subject to human bad habits, with pets being given high fat, salt and sugar snacks that their bodies don’t need.
“Especially as an animal ages, it’s need for calories typically declines and unfortunately, only a few extra pounds can put excess stress on joints and organs, which a dog can’t do anything about.
“It’s not programmed to refuse food so the onus is on pet owners to behave responsibly, for the sake of their canine companion’s wellbeing.”
Health Related Quality of Life (HRQL) in dogs
NewMetrica has evolved specialist tools over many years which reliably measure Health Related Quality of Life (HRQL) in animals, including companion dogs. These tools are widely used in veterinary practice and in clinical trials to determine information that animals can’t tell us; to reveal how they are actually feeling about their physical state.
Prof Jacky Reid, who is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Glasgow University, says; “We developed NewMetrica as an evolutionary tool from the Glasgow Pain Scale, working with animals who cannot tell humans directly what they are feeling but whose wellbeing is clearly important.
“New Metrica tools do not simply measure the pain of conditions such as osteo-arthritis, they also identify a broader sense of the animal’s wellbeing and any changes in its quality of life. The dog who happily snaps up cheese, crisps or ice cream can’t tell you if it then feels sick, sluggish or nauseous.
“If an animal then goes on to become increasingly less mobile or to develop headaches, joint pain or sromach aches, it can’t easily convey the full picture to its owner either.”
Help is available
Regular monitoring by vets helps pet-owners determine a healthy weight for individual animals. Vets can suggest the appropriate dietary balance and types of food for particular breeds and ages of dogs. They can also offer advice on dealing with begging behaviour in relation to food.
Thanks to the work of NewMetrica, understanding of how lifestyle, diet and therapeutic drugs can impact on wellbeing is also scientifically measurable for those working with companion animals.
This is invaluable in giving dogs a voice regarding their own wellbeing.
Information on the range of clinical HRQL tools available from NewMetrica is available at www.newmetrica.com