In America, pudgy pets hit the treadmill, too

Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:14am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the obesity rate soars among Americans, their dogs are getting potbellied, too, encouraging fitness companies to come up with a range of equipment and classes to get pampered pets back into shape.

From canine-tailored treadmills, to puppy pedometers and group fitness classes, there's no shortage of tools to trim and tone the sagging paunches of pooches.

As part of his fitness routine, Rocky, a rotund dachshund, traipses a mini-treadmill designed for small dogs.

"When Rocky first came to us, he looked like a small marine animal," said Dr. Dennis Arn, veterinarian at the Desert Inn Animal Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada. "He's got a waistline now and his conditioning is significantly better."

Just like their owners, obesity affects pets' longevity and quality of life. About 53 percent of adult dogs are classified by their veterinarians as obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

To combat the weighty issue, Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, Massachusetts, announced the creation of the nation's first obesity clinic last month, geared specially towards pets.

"If you can't lay your hands on them and feel the ribs pretty easily, they're obese," said Arn, adding that too many pet owners reward their charges with treats.

"As a blanket statement, a dog needs at least 30 minutes (of exercise) a day," said Geralynn Cada, who has been training dogs for more than 30 years. "A dog who is less active is less happy and has more health problems."   Continued...