Understanding the context for pet cat and dog feeding and exercising behaviour among pet owners in Ireland: A qualitative study
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Background: Pet cat and dog obesity contributes to increased risk of several diseases, including cancer and diabetes mellitus as well as a worsening of orthopaedic problems, and a reduction in survival rate. This study aims to develop a better understanding of cat and dog owners’ self-reported beliefs and factors that influence owner behaviour around feeding and exercising their pet cat or dog, as there is a lack of in-depth understanding in this area. Seven focus group discussions, with 43 pet owners in total, were conducted. Results: Pet owners often reported a perceived a low level of control over feeding; often undermined by other people feeding of their pet, their pets begging for food, and their pets attitude towards food. Treats were used in the absence of owner control over pet begging and emotional attachment, and to influence pet behaviour. The majority of participants had positive attitudes to pet exercise, which could be related to pet specific requirements, especially differences in cats and dogs. There were some negative experiences of stress associated with dog walking and fears over aggressive confrontations with other dogs. Conclusion: Feeding one’s pet is influenced by beliefs about pet specific needs, pet food and pet health, pet owners’ perceived control over feeding, and the implications for the pet owner. Pet exercise is influenced by beliefs about pet specific exercise needs, and the implications of exercising one’s pet for the pet owner. Understanding owner behaviours on feeding and exercise allows for a more targeted approach to preventing and treating pet obesity.
Irish Veterinary Journal
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Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified