"Biggest Loser" host, dog Winky battle pet obesity

Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:57pm EST
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Alison Sweeney, host of the NBC network's weight loss TV series "The Biggest Loser," has worked with the show's contestants since 2007, supporting them as they drop pounds and learn to lead a healthier way of life.

Now, Sweeney is taking on more weight issues by teaming up with dog food company Hill's Science Diet for the second annual Million Pound Pledge to raise awareness about obesity in pets.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54 percent of America's pet population is overweight. Sweeney, who also stars on the daily soap opera "Days of Our Lives," became aware of pet obesity when she took her Boston Terrier, Winky, to the vet and was told her pooch could stand to lose a few pounds. After adjusting Winky's diet and making a few changes, the canine is back in shape.

With the Million Pound Pledge, Sweeney is urging pet owners to come together on petfit.com and collectively help their animals drop a combined one million pounds by March 30. One lucky winner will win a free trip to "The Biggest Loser" finale in May. Sweeney spoke to Reuters about the plan and pet obesity.

Q: When did you realize Winky was getting fat?

A: "She was a little thick, but I thought it was kind of cute. The vet explained she was a good two pounds overweight and when your dog is only 19 lbs, that's a lot. People don't realize what a significant difference a pound or two can make on a small animal."

Q: What's the most common mistake people make when it comes to feeding their pets?

A: "The number one mistake is giving pets table scraps. I made the mistake thinking I was showing my dog love by giving her food and treats. You see a tiny 4 oz. piece of cheese, but for a Boston Terrier like mine, that's like one and a half hamburgers. That's unhealthy."   Continued...

<p>Television personality Alison Sweeney poses with her Boston Terrier "Winky" in this publicity photo released to Reuters January 31, 2012. Sweeney became aware of pet obesity when she took Winky, to the vet and was told her pooch could stand to lose a few pounds. REUTERS/Handout</p>