With news that more and more pets are joining the growing ranks of the obese (spurred by too much processed food, sedentary culture and architecture) it's only a matter of time before someone thought of designing a stairlift for these unfortunate animals, just like their human counterparts.
In a country where observers are predicting over half of its dogs will be obese by 2022, the Daily Mail reports that a UK-based insurance company is prototyping a device that will help pudgy pets climb stairs, which they're calling "Stair Lift of the Dog 2022":
Extra layers of 'puppy' fat can put pressure on an animal's back and cause a plethora of bone, respiratory and skin conditions which can render a pet unable to climb a set of stairs.
Costing approximately £5,000 (US $8,000), the pet stairlift comes with a strategically-placed 'paw push' start button that the animal can activate.
Some may say that more exercise and appropriate food is what is needed, rather than treating the surface symptoms with wasteful gadgets. But it's not as simple as that. As TreeHugger Stephen noted before, a recent study found that there were seemingly contradictory factors involved in the process of becoming and staying fat for animals (and correspondingly, humans too):
The skyrocketing rates of obesity among humans over the last several decades has been attributed to unhealthy diets and increasingly sedentary lifestyles -- but, to Allison's surprise, those factors don't appear to be responsible for the animals in the study getting pudgier. In fact, at least for the lab's primates, they should be getting thinner.
"We can't explain the changes in [the animals] body weight by the fact that they eat out at restaurants more often or the fact that they get less physical education in schools," the researcher quipped in an interview with LiveScience. "There can be other factors beyond what we obviously reach for."
In the absence of any obvious reason why animals are getting fatter, some researchers are beginning to suspect the culprit may be a bit more surreptitious. Chemical additives and genetically modified food sources have been linked to childhood obesity -- and a similar process seems to be taking place within animals.
It's a disturbing worldwide trend (and which certainly won't stop with the introduction of a pricey bandaid solution), but is probably best fought by avoiding processed foods, walking and biking instead of driving and changing the way things are built -- both for us and our furry companions.