Who needs a health club when you have a dog?
The Veterinary Public Health Program (VPH) of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health believes that a leash may be the best tool to whip our two epidemics — overweight people and overweight pets — into shape. They have launched the 2020 Healthy Pets, Healthy Families Initiative to develop ways to improve both animal and human health, monitor local animal health trends and set long-term goals for animal health.
Two surveys for the public
To help reach its goals, VPH has developed two quick online surveys:
- The Pet Health & Safety Quiz that asks questions about the health of dogs and cats in Los Angeles County, and
- The Parks Survey that asks about which local parks people visit with their dogs and how much exercise they engage in at the parks.
A coalition of physicians, vets and animal-related organizations
A group of physicians, veterinarians and others involved with animals called together by the VPH are working on programs related to the following focus areas where human and animal health intersect:
- Pet obesity. Studies have shown that walking the dog improves the health of the person as well as the dog.
- Second-hand smoke. Living around people who smoke increase a pet’s risk of cancer.
- Spaying and neutering. Having your dog or cat neutered or spayed can reduce their risk of getting certain cancers and makes them less likely to roam and be hit by a car or to bite someone.
- Vaccination against preventable diseases. Many diseases, such as rabies, can be shared between unvaccinated pets and humans.
- Disaster preparedness and pets. Thinking ahead about taking care of Fido during an emergency is often a gateway to getting the entire family to think about prepared for earthquakes, fires or other disasters.
- Bite prevention. The U.S. Postal Service declared Los Angeles as the worst city in America for dog attacks on its letter carriers. the number of dog bites that send people to the hospital is on the rise as well.
- Preventing parasites and zoonotic diseases. These are health threats that can pass between pets and humans. they range from rabies to giardia.
Some of these areas require only once-in-a-lifetime action (spaying and neutering) others action every couple of years (vaccinations) and still others require sound habits (walking and bite prevention). All of them lead to better health for you and your pet.
Making sure to take the two short surveys will get valuable information about you and your pet on the record for improvements in programs and parks in Los Angeles.