Conference programme 2019


Tipping the scales: how can we make a dent in pet obesity?

15 Nov 2019
BVA Congress

In a letter published in Vet Record last year, Professor Alex German challenged the veterinary profession to do more to tackle pet obesity. “To date, the veterinary profession has not taken the problem of obesity seriously enough,” he said. Our knowledge and understanding of pet obesity are better than ever, but the problem continues to grow. Building on a partnership between BVA and Mars to improve the veterinary profession’s understanding of this serious issue, this session will explore different perspectives on obesity – from declaring the problem as a disease to understanding the human psychology behind it.


Obesity now a major and highly prevalent medical disease in dogs and cats, which affects the quality of life of many dogs and cats throughout the world.  Whilst weight loss protocols aimed at treating the disease are well-established, long-term outcomes are disappointing.  Most pets with obesity that start a weight management programme either fail to complete it or rebound subsequently.  More concerning is the fact that very few dogs and cats actually start a weight management programme in the first place, and veterinary surgeons rarely even record the presence of obesity in patient records.  This talk will first explore the reasons why current strategies to tackle companion animal obesity are failing.  Suggestions will then be made for how the veterinary profession as a whole can aim to improve the outcomes of obesity care in the future.

  • Describe the current status of obesity in companion animals in terms of prevalence and outcomes of current weight management programmes.
  • Debate the reasons behind the failure of current obesity care programmes in cats and dogs.
  • Discuss the options for individual-, team-, and profession-wide strategies to improve obesity care for companion animals.
  • Discuss what lessons can be drawn from measures to tackle obesity in humans
Daniella Dos Santos, BVA President (2019-2020) - British Veterinary Association
Alex German, Royal Canin Professor of Small Animal Medicine - University of Liverpool
Hilda Mulrooney, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition - Kingston ~University

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