How to Help Your Pet Shed Those Extra Pounds
Poor Arlo and Cream Puff. My two cats have – like their owner – eaten too many carbs over the last several months and are now on a diet. The extra pounds are noticeable: Arlo can’t jump as high or run as fast when chasing a cat toy; Cream Puff has become softer around the middle and her little head looks out of proportion compared to her rotund body. My vet relayed the bad news two weeks ago – each cat would need to get in shape and drop the excess pounds pronto to reduce their chances of diabetes or heart disease – the same chronic health problems that inflict obese humans. Approximately 68 percent of U.S. households, or 82.5 million homes, own at least one pet and more than half of our canine and feline friends are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Pets are simply following in the footsteps of their owners: 69 percent of U.S. adult Americans are overweight or obese says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Megan Rees, public relations director at Denver-based Dumb Friends League, a community-based animal welfare organization, says she’s seen an increase in the number of overweight cats dropped off at the shelter over the last decade. To help these cats lose weight, the League teamed up with pet food maker Hills for a “10-Week Turnaround” weight-loss challenge, during which they’re fed Hill’s Science Diet food). Some of the initial participants have not only met their weight-loss goals, they’ve also been adopted (the primary purpose of the challenge). During the challenge, the fat cats are sequestered in their own room at the shelter where staff members and volunteers carefully monitor the cats’ food intake and exercise them daily. There are six cats currently in the program and more will enter the as others are placed in permanent homes.