After noticing that encouraging pet owners to take better physical care of their pets resulted in healthier pet owners, a working group of veterinarians wants to develop strategies to improve the health of humans through their domesticated animals. Called Healthy Pets, Healthy Family, the group has “conducted surveys of vets and pet owners and identified the areas where human and animal health overlap.” Its goals now include reducing the number of pet owners who smoke and increasing the proportion of dog owners who go on daily walks. The group also wants to promote smoke-free pet parks.
What’s the Big Idea?
What the veterinarians have observed is that people are more willing to put effort into improving the health of their pets than they are at staying fit themselves. “The idea is simple: If people won’t exercise, eat better and stop smoking for themselves, maybe they will for their pets. ‘You look at pets, and they look like their owners,’ said Karen Ehnert, acting director of veterinary public health for the L.A. County Department of Public Health. ‘We envision that by improving their pet’s health, we can improve the family’s health as well.'” Topics regularly discussed by Healthy Pets include obesity, secondhand smoke, bite prevention and the importance of vaccinations.