This saddening statistic comes from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, and yes, that’s a real organization fighting a real problem. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention was created by a Veterinarian who saw this problem and wanted to raise awareness. As with obese humans, obese dogs are at risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and respiratory diseases. They also are less likely to be adopted.
The New York Times reported on a handful of popular dog weight loss camps and clinics that have begun to address this issue. Morris Animal Inn in Morristown, N.J trains dogs on treadmills, pools, and nature trails. Their classes have catchy titles like a canine Kentucky Derby, and they even run a New Year’s Resolution camp. For seven years University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine has operated a “fat camp” for dogs, with inpatient and outpatient options. Loyalville, a kennel and training center in Hatchbend, Fl, offers one-on-one, 24-hour care and training at $1,250 per month. Indigo Ranch in Vernonia, OR, began their doggy fat camp after helping an obese lab named Butters lose weight and get adopted.
These facilities are surely a great place for dogs to become healthy again, but no one should ignore that it’s the human caretaker who overfeeds and under-stimulates. Cesar Millan, the popular dog trainer whose books and television shows promote a philosophy of “exercise, discipline, affection,” said most dogs were overweight because of lazy owners who confuse food with affection and attention. Letting the dogs out in the backyard is no substitute for a walk, he added. Just like we should be eating right and exercising daily, so should our canine companions.
So if you’re reading this with your doggy friend in the other room, get up, grab a leash, and go have some fun outside!
Image Source: Dale/Flickr