What do Brazilian owners know about canine obesity and what risks does this knowledge generate?
O que os proprietários brasileiros sabem sobre a obesidade canina e quais os riscos que esse conhecimento gera?
Mariana Yukari Hayasaki Porsani, , Vinicius Vasques de Oliveira, Ariane Galdino de
Oliveira, Fabio Alves Teixeira, Vivian Pedrinelli, Camila Marinelli Martins, Alexander James German, Marcio Antonio Brunetto
Canine obesity is associated with genetic, environmental, and behavioural factors, with the latter including both the behaviour of the dog and the owner. Knowledge about owner perception of canine obesity and its treatment can inform the development of new strategies to help prevent and manage this disease. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the opinions of dog owners regarding canine obesity and weight management. Dog owners residing in the city of Sao Paulo (Brazil) completed a questionnaire, either at home or in the waiting rooms of 3 veterinary hospitals. Owners determined their dog’s body condition score (BCS), and this was compared with BCS determined by a veterinarian. Questionnaire findings from dogs that were in overweight (BCS 6-7/9) or obese (BCS (8-9/9) condition were compared with those in ideal weight (4-5/9) using chi-square tests and odds ratios. A total of 926 dogs were included, of which 480 (52%), 317 (34%) and 129 (14%) were in ideal, overweight and obese condition, respectively. Many owners under-estimated their dog’s weight status, with the proportion increasing as the dog’s weight status increased (ideal 60/480, 13%; overweight 174/317, 55%; obese 88/129, 68%; P<0.001). Although most owners (890/926, 96%) believed that canine obesity could pose health risks, the proportion that disagreed increased as weight status increased (ideal 12/480, 2%; overweight 14/317, 4%; 10/129, 8%; P = 0.006). Finally, although most owners (880/926, 95%) stated that they would let their dog undergo weight management, only a minority (182/926; 20%) believed that a trained professional was needed, and they had various misperceptions including potential cost and what the strategies that would be effective. Based on the findings of this study, it would be advisable for veterinarians to spend time addressing these misperceptions, in the hope of both improving awareness of obesity and the outcomes of weight management.