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Exploring the Role of Communication in Companion Animal Obesity in the Veterinary Practice

By Alexandra Phillips, Cindy Adams (adviser)

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Category Theses

Veterinarians are tasked with an important communication challenge when treating obese cats and dogs, as obesity among pets remains a prevalent health and welfare concern. Our objectives were to 1) foster further understanding of the owner and veterinary perspectives of the complex factors that influence obesity in dogs and cats; and 2) to contribute to the evidence surrounding the nature of obesity and diet discussions between veterinarians and cat owners. A review of diverse literatures suggested that a complex and multi-faceted set of influences complicate obesity management, and utility of communication between owners and veterinarians. A thematic analysis of an archive of video-recorded veterinarian-client-feline consultations revealed a lack of in-depth nutritional assessment by the veterinarian and communication misalignment between veterinarians and owners. Emergent themes included the use of humour and patient-directed speak to facilitate obesity conversations. Exploration and description of how veterinarians and owners of obese pets are communicating can inform veterinary education programming and continuing education opportunities.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2017
Pages 163
Department Community Health Sciences
Degree Master of Science
Language English
University University of Calgary
  1. Animal roles
  2. Communication
  3. Pets and companion animals
  4. Veterinarians