Pets shouldn't be packing on the pounds - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Pets shouldn't be packing on the pounds

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Pets shouldn't be packing on the pounds (WFSB) Pets shouldn't be packing on the pounds (WFSB)

Pets may have packed on the pounds over the winter, or the battle of the bulge may have been underway for a while.

Whatever the case, humans aren't the only ones with weight problems.

Across the country, 54 percent of cats and dogs are considered obese.

Over the past six weeks, Eyewitness News has followed two dogs and one cat, and their owners, as they started on diets that could extend their lives for years.

In March, Claire the cat, Jo-Jo the dog, and Beckham the Golden Retriever were on the heavy side, and their veterinarian was concerned.

The pets, and their owners, were challenged to work on their weight.

On weigh-in day, Jo-Jo, naturally short and stout, came in at 26.8 pounds.

“Almost 27 pounds is just too much for our girl,” said Dr. Andrea Dennis, a veterinarian at Bloomfield Animal Hospital.

In addition to the number on the scale, there are other signs of weight worries.

“We want to be able to feel Jo-Jo's ribs and not have to work at it. There's a lot … I can feel quite a bit of … fat,” Dennis said, adding that she should have an hourglass figure.

“I just knew she was getting chunky and it's not good,” said Nanci Fox, Jo-Jo's owner.

The game plan for the three to four pound slim-down was to knock out the treats, up the exercise slowly, and switch to a special lower calorie, high protein, and high fiber food.

“Our goal for the month is … as far as maybe a pound,” Fox said.

Claire the cat is perfect in personality but not so great with girth. She weighs 13 pounds and 6 ounces.

That's down from almost 15 pounds weeks earlier.

“She also at that point was having a hard time cleaning herself,” said Claire's pet parent Cathy Drake, adding that it led to infections.

Dennis wanted her to get down to around 12 pounds.

The strategy was small, measured meals spread over the day, and added exercise, which isn't always easy for cats.

“I think with kitty cats, you have to be a little more creative. I love those lasers. They come about this size and you just wave them around the house,” Dennis said.

Another big boy, Beckham, weighed 109 pounds, but should be around 90 to 92 pounds.

“I think, you know, we just overfeed him. It's like you love him too much. And you just want to give him a treat,” said pet parents Sue Mueller, of Simsbury.

Being overweight can shorten a pet's life, with diseases like arthritis, diabetes and heart disease directly linked to fuller figures.

“The studies are saying that we can add two years to the life of a dog and cat if they are the proper weight,” Dennis said.

For Beckham, that means upping the exercise slowly. Too much too soon could be dangerous.

“They can get myositis or they can get inflammation of their muscles or their joints,” Dennis said.

He will also get fewer calories with special low calorie food, and he will get one set amount for the day, to be divided up into meals and treats.

About three weeks after the weigh-in, Jo-Jo had been getting her special food and was taking longer walks.

Claire was also enjoying her low calorie food, and Beckham has been playing with a soccer ball and exercising more.

A weigh-in came five weeks and one day after first getting on the scale.

Claire started at 13 pounds 6 ounces and got down to 13 pounds 2.5 ounces.

Even though it wasn't a big drop, it was a decent percentage down.

“When I'm rubbing her… you can definitely feel her ribs,” Dennis said.

The scale actually showed a gain for Jo-Jo of about half of a pound, despite the change in food.

The family will reduce the calorie count even more to get things moving along.

Beckham was down from 109 pounds to 103.5 pounds.

“I'm so proud of you, especially since I can feel your ribs,” Dennis said.

There's more work to do but he is certainly on track.

To learn more about Dr. Dennis, click here

You can check out Pet Talk segments on WTIC-AM 1080 on Saturdays by clicking here.

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