Click here to learn more.
As the host of NBC’s
The Biggest Loser, Alison Sweeney is well aware of the importance of maintaining a
healthy weight. But it never occurred to her that the table scraps she was feeding her
Boston Terrier, Winky, were causing the pooch to pack on the pounds. “I’m so focused on a healthy lifestyle for my family and myself, so I was surprised when the vet told me Winky was two pounds overweight,” says the 35-year-old mother of two. That may not sound like much, but two pounds on a 20-pound
dog is the equivalent of a 200-pound man being 20 pounds overweight.
Winky is part of a growing obesity problem that began with adults but is now plaguing our children and pets. “I started talking to other pet owners and realized just how common this is,” Sweeney says. In fact, a recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 55 percent of dogs and 53 percent of cats were overweight or obese. The main culprit: Owners who feed pets too much, don't exercise them enough and aren’t aware of the serious health problems associated with excess weight. Much like humans, overweight pets have an increased risk of developing diabetes, arthritis, respiratory problems, and other health issues.
While humans can close the refrigerator door and hit the gym more often, pets must depend on their owners to take the initiative. In hopes of providing inspiration and support, Sweeney teamed up with Hill’s Pet Nutrition to launch a weight loss challenge called the “Million Pound Pledge.” To take the pledge and for weight management tips, visit PetFit.com through March 30. Be sure to consult your veterinarian before beginning a weight loss program for your pet.
Eliminate Table Scraps. Table scraps can really throw off a weight management plan. “If you feed your dog an ounce of cheese, it’s the equivalent of a 5’4” woman eating three hamburgers,” Sweeney says. Keep your pet in another room when you’re preparing dinner, to keep pets from begging and you from caving in.
Practice Portion Control. Along with cutting out table scraps, Sweeney carefully measures out the amount of food Winky eats at each meal. “It’s not a good idea to keep your pet’s bowl filled throughout the day,” Sweeney says. “Free feeding leads to overeating.”
Substitute Praise for Treats. Just like humans, pets love verbal approval, so swap praise for treats as much as possible. And when you do want to reward your pet with treats, “don’t forget to account for them during meal time,” Sweeney says.
Get Active. From playing games in the backyard to taking walks around the neighborhood, Sweeney got her whole family involved in helping Winky get fit. “You’d be surprised at what a big difference 10 minutes of activity can make when it comes to your pet’s health,” she says.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
A webcam recorded the scene as about 100 loggerhead sea turtles hatched in their nest on a Florida Keys beach.
We asked veterinary professionals and
pet owners to vote on water-loving and
water-shy breeds, and the results are…
Every year, the wild ponies of Assateague
swim to Chincoteague and are auctioned
off to support the volunteer fire…
Little Navann has no idea what to make
of the orange feline he happens upon at
Thailand’s Elephant Nature Park.
Our expert shares what should go into
emergency kits for animals, like extra
leashes, medication and recent photos.
Believed to have originated in Egypt around 329 B.C., the elegant Saluki is a calm and quiet companion.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.