Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
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!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
A runaway dog is back with his owners,
thanks to some caring drivers who
spotted him on a busy road.
Many dogs love to swim, but certain
bodies of water can hold dangers that
aren't visible to the naked eye.
If you've never owned a cat before, you
may want to consider a breed that's
friendly and low-maintenance.
The medium-size Mudi is a sheepdog
who tends to make an intelligent, active
and easy-to-groom companion.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
A dog diagnosed with the dangerous parasite may have to take antibiotics, get drug injections and stop exercising.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.