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relating obesity in humans to cardiovascular disease and its offshoots such as heart attacks and strokes. The Pet Food Manufacturers Association has sponsored some research which makes for frightening reading. It appears that almost half of all pets visiting their veterinarians, for


whatever reason, are overweight. There is also a serious problem of perception. The PFMA’s highlights what it calls the ‘mismatch’ between owners’ perception of their pet’s body condition and an objective assessment. The research shows that a fifth of pet owners think their pets are of a healthy weight when they are actually overweight or clinically obese. Zara Boland MRCVS is a practising clinical vet who is apparently


achieving some sort of celebrity status as a result of her appearances on a number of TV stations. She predicts that the issue of obesity is ‘rapidly reaching a crisis point unless owners take action now’. The PFMA has called for UK pet owners ‘to take note of their animals’ increasing waist lines’ and take part in a nationwide ‘Weigh in Wednesday’ Campaign, which kicked off on 8th May. The campaign has been designed to involve all interested parties, including vets, pet retailers, pet food manufacturers, groomers, pet charities and welfare groups. It is the first time that all interested bodies have joined together to encourage pet owners to take action. The research has yielded a number of other disturbing facts. More


than 90 per cent of pet owners with overweight pets do not see pet obesity as life threatening and are unaware that keeping pets in the ideal weight range could add as much as two years to their life span. Besides heart disease, obesity has been linked to health conditions





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PAGE 8 PET FOOD SUPPLEMENT ISSUE 15


such as diabetes and its inflammatory effect are known to exacerbate problems like arthritis. With estimates of as many as half Britain’s pets exceeding their ideal body condition and recent reports that suggest that 18.5 million pets in the UK are regularly fed inappropriate diets, the need for pet owner education is urgent. PFMA stress that ‘Collectively we can achieve far more than working alone.’


Upcoming Event It is symptomatic of the evolving world we live in that this year’s Pet Food Forum will be held in the city that epitomises the new world’s economic growth: Shanghai, China. The forum starts on 23 August. Unfortunately, this will have reached you too late to claim the 15


per cent early bird discount you would have secured had you registered before 15 June. However, there are lots of good things to enjoy, even at this late stage. The forum will open with a presentation by Clarissa Nicklaus of Euromonitor International on the global and Chinese pet food markets and will be followed by a paper detailing the role to be played by nutritional management in improving skin and coat health of dogs. Following a paper describing the use of microbiological control systems in the pet food industry, a paper will be presented on Pet Owners’ Decision-making Styles, a title I found intriguing, to say the least. During the second half of the day, a paper will be presented on the


Effect of Protein Sources on Digestibility in Tibetan Mastiffs; I am very keen that any Tibetan Mastiffs that I should meet have been well fed and are utterly contented as I hear that they are a magnificently intimidating canine, with a quite remarkable bite ratio. Following a paper on Success in Pet Food Drying: Key Considerations for Energy Efficiency and Safety presented by Dustin O’Farrell of Bühler Aeroglide Asia – the Aeroglide Corporation was acquired by Bühler in 2008 – Isabelle Guiller of SPF, part of the pet food Division of the DIANA Group, will present a paper on that old favourite, the Impact of Kibble Formulation on Palatability. Finally, and this takes me back many years, Dr Signe Svindland will present a paper on Krill, as a Functional and Sustainable Pet Food Ingredient. I would, at this point, draw readers’ attention to the fact that krill are an essential part of the food chain of whales and some other threatened marine species.


And Finally Recent advancements in digital technology and increased popularity of social networking have made their mark on on and offline social interaction in recent years, it seems some Americans have more faith in a pet to help their social life. Indeed, according to new research from Mintel, almost half – 47 per cent – of pet owners believe owning a pet is better for your social life than social networking sites. I should make it clear, at the outset, that the author has no presence


on Facebook, neither does he tweet. Nevertheless, the Mintel study does make the interesting point that, whereas the pet shop owner or vet used to be the prime source of information by which pet owners found out about caring for their pet, social media has become a new way for pet owners to explore and share their experiences regarding their pets. Further, it appears that, as people take on a more focused interest in their own diets, they are passing on their own concerns about food ingredients, helping to create a market for gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan pet foods. I am not sure where this may lead but it should be an interesting journey.


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