New online course in companion animal obesity

Date: 
Thursday, January 14, 2021

“Practical ways of tackling the obesity challenges in companion animals and equines”  is an online self-study course that can be worked through at any time and it launches on the 18th January! There will be two live sessions (possibly more) where participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and join in an interactive session. The main facilitator is Dr Tamzin Furtado, with input from Jo White and Suzanne Rogers, a human obesity specialist Jason Feavers, and with resources from other people too. 

We recognise that every vet, vet nurse, animal physio, farrier, behaviourist, welfare officer and animal nutritionist regularly comes across obesity as a welfare issue and we want to create a community working to address the issue as part of their daily roles. The feedback from this course will be used in the planning of a more in-depth package that will bring together a wider range of stakeholders, including academic and commercial organisations. Practitioners who take part in this initial course and successfully implement human behaviour change approaches in their clients will be encouraged to work together to share their experiences with future participants in the in-depth course. 

The link to the course is“Practical ways of tackling the obesity challenges in companion animals and equines” 

 

Amazingly, approximately 35% of dogs, cats and horses in the UK are thought to be obese, leading to a vast range of other health issues and reduced life expectancy.  

Treating obesity in pets looks simple at first glance– feed them less and exercise them more, surely? However, as animal professionals know, it is way more complicated than that. Obesity usually arises from a complex combination of factors such as our relationship with pets, our relationships with food, our relationships with family, and our in–built habits. Many dieting programmes fail to consider these important psychological and social elements, and hence they may fail.  

An understanding of human behaviour change can transform how practitioners interact and communicate with their clients, taking factors that have previously been barriers to change, such as our habits, and using them to help change happen.   

This short, pragmatic distance learning course is for practitioners working at the front line in companion animal and equine obesity (including vets, vet nurses, nutritionists, physiotherapists, behaviourists, welfare officers, trainers, farriers/trimmers and more). The course will enable participants to explore human behaviour change approaches to managing obesity primarily in dogs, cats, and horses. Participants will learn the need to first understand the drivers of the issue and the barriers involved in change, then explore potential ways to design change interventions to facilitate change and how to monitor activities to ensure they are impactful. Participants will learn about facilitating change at individual, local and national levels, and will compare contrast different aspects in relation to management of the different species.    

This interactive course will take approximately five to seven hours to complete and consist of recorded talks and worksheets for the participants’ self-study and reflection as well as links and further reading.  Support will be available throughout, and included in the price is the opportunity to attend a live Q&A session with the HBCA team.    

Sections include:    

Background – overview of human behaviour change and why it is important   

Psychology of companion animal ownership and obesity.   

Understanding obesogenic environments   

Thinking about how participants can make changes at the level of the individual, community, and society.   

A perspective from human health   

Summary and next steps   

The feedback from this course will be used in the planning of a more in-depth package that will bring together a wider range of stakeholders, including academic and commercial organisations.   

Practitioners who take part in this initial course and successfully implement human behaviour change approaches in their clients, will be encouraged to work together to share their experiences with future participants in the in-depth course. There is the possibility that recommendations could be put together from the group to create a useful resources and events both online and in person.