Fat Camps for Dogs Battle a Bulging Epidemic

If you can't feel your pup's ribs, it may be time for some tough love and a little canine cardio

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Has Poochie been overeating lately? If so, he’s not alone. According to a recent survey of veterinarians, more more than half of all dogs in the U.S. are overweight. To help pups slim down, pet centers that once focused mainly on boarding or obedience training are now helping dogs get in shape too.

What can you expect? The vets at the Morris Animal Inn in Morristown, N.J., for example, offer  swimming and “canine cardio” (running on treadmills or up and down the stairs), along with daily check-ups and weigh-ins. Dogs are rewarded for their hard work with healthy snacks, like yogurt parfaits and a dip in the doggie jacuzzi if they’ve performed well. “We’re here to cheer them on and we want them to do well, so that’s our goal,” Debora Montgomery, the inn’s marketing manager, told CBS.

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The Indigo Ranch in Vernonia, Oregon offers a 4-week, $800 program in which dogs are fed “low-calorie, high fiber food and treats” and put on an exercise regimen “that gradually gets your dog in shape and allows optimal calorie burning,” according to the ranch’s website. Among its success stories: Butters, a yellow lab, who went from 142 pounds to just 84 pounds after a 4-month stay. “He looks like a different dog!! Butters is definitely our own ‘Biggest Loser,'” according to the ranch’s website.

As a rule, if you can’t feel your dog’s ribs, it’s probably time to reevaluate your pet’s exercise program. “People love their pets and they want to reward them, but I think they sometimes over-reward them,” ASPCA internist Kristen Frank explained to CBS.

So next time you want to pamper your pooch, maybe take him out for a fun run instead of smothering him in doggie treats. Otherwise, there may be a pricey fat camp in his future.

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