In the News: Obesity Goes to the Dogs


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

The obesity epidemic has gone to the dogs.

Seven dogs and one cat in Britain are starting a 100-day lifestyle makeover, complete with diet and exercise. They're all more than 30% overweight, according to a Reuters article.

According to the story: "The pet who achieves the biggest percentage weight loss and best follows their new regime will be crowned champion, winning their owner a pet-friendly holiday."

About 30% of Britain's dogs are overweight or obese--that's about 1.95 million fat dogs. One-third of cats and dogs in America are overweight or obese, too.

We would like to suggest that pet owners register their pudgy pets for our newest site, After all, shouldn't man's best friends make their lives an adventure, too?

(I'm kidding about that last part. There is no "" I thought we needed some light reading here on the blog.)

One of the causes is feeding dogs and cats people food. Another major cause is inactive pets. Dogs can't walk themselves if owners don't want to get off the couch.

Maybe joining SparkPeople could be the answer to the pet obesity epidemic:

Owner joins SparkPeople, learns to eat healthy foods.

Pet is no longer fed greasy, unhealthy table scraps.

Owner embraces daily exercise.

Pet gets taken on daily walks, thus slimming down.

Wow. Can SparkPeople help pets, too? :)

Have you ever had to put your pet on a diet? Do you think that our pets are unhealthy because we, as a society, are unhealthy?

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    I have two lab mixed dogs that I rescued from a shelter.. they are both from the same litter. Our one dog Cocoa has gained 15 lbs more than Roxy in the past year. She is way overweight, even though she gets fed the same as Roxy and gets exercise the same as Roxy. I even tried feeding her half the amount she normally eats and she still has not lost weight. She is only really large in her upper chest and everyone who comes over calls her "the fat one." Every once in a while both dogs do this wheezing thing that sounds like they are choking on something but they are always fine after a minute. Could this be dog asthma? Oh yeah and they snore, like loud. Not even like a quite little normal dog noise, I mean it's loud! I'm really puzzled about this and Cocoa's weight.. ever since we got them as puppies I could kind of tell that something was wrong with her, but I don't know what. Does anyone have any idea what could be causing these problems? - 12/18/2008   12:23:11 AM
    My cat, Eowyn, was a tad on the heavy side and Doc said if I got her down to around 10lbs he'd stop sqwakin at me. I changed all three cats to twice a day feeding and included extra play time. Missy Eowyn is now 10lbs and lookin great! The other two lost a little weight too :) - 12/3/2008   4:24:50 PM
  • 107
    We have a six month old American Eskimo after our 2 others of same bread passed away at 13 and 14 years old. Losing the last one broke our hearts. He had diabetes that required 2 insulin injections per day and was extremely over weight. Our vet used to make my husband furious for chastising us for him being so over weight. My husband had loved our dog and fed him treats regardless of those lectures. He equated the treats with love. Our poor dog hung on during the past year of his life by sheer will and his love for us. The day he passed away my husband held him sobbing.
    3 months later we brought our puppy home and my husband has walked him every single day. He doesn't give him people food (says it's not good for him) and has said he wished he had taken better care of our other boys.
    His love for his little furry friend has made him make changes that benefit his own health too. Now he's working on me to be a part of keeping our dog healthy and joining them for the daily walk. - 11/30/2008   2:38:08 PM
  • 106
    Oh! I thought you were being serious about the pet spark too. I do belong to Dogster. I have a teacup poodle and I just put food out every day. She is not that great of an eater and waits til about 8:00 P.M. to eat. I don't know why. but she is a healthy weight. I love her!

    April's Mommy - 11/26/2008   1:58:46 PM
    For the benefit of us all, I walk my dogs twice a day, rain or shine. Allie, my long-haired chihuahua/terrier mix has luxating patella and good diet and exercise are integral parts of her care. It is likely that at some point in the future she will need to have knee surgery, but we can stave that off (hopefully for years) by making sure she eats high quality food, gets regular (but not excessive) excercise, and maintains a healthy weight. Understanding my dog's health/exercise needs are part of my responsibility as a pet owner, and it is a responsibility I take seriously.

    Besides - both of my dogs are SO MUCH better behaved when they get an appropriate amount of exercise!

    And I totally wish there was a barkpeople. ;) - 11/25/2008   3:33:20 PM
    My dog is in better shape than I am :) That being said....when Fletch and I are out running...I see a lot of dogs cooped up inside wishing they were doing something. - 11/25/2008   1:16:38 PM
  • 103
    I have 2 furballs. We don't call them the "C" word as one of them gets very annoyed. Both are overweight. The problem is we don't feed them more than we should so I don't know how it happened! Ans with the furry ones how do you possibly get them to be more active? You don't take them for walks! I know!! Believeme I know! I tried taking B for walks on a leash when was about 6 months old on a cat leash and it didn't work. He's now 13 and it's a lost cause! - 11/24/2008   11:00:16 AM
    It's really odd, I've had pets all my life, and even though I've been the overweight one in the house, all my pets have never been fat? They have free acccess to food and are well loved. I've often wondered in additon to no exercise, if pets overeat for emotional reasons? Is this possible? LOL
    My cat just got checked, he's13.6 pounds, but all muscle. My dog, lost 5 pounds, but she is 12 years old. The dog gets me out walking and has recently challenged me to running.
    good article. - 11/24/2008   10:21:14 AM
    i do not have a pet, but a few of my friends do and one or two of their pets look like they need to be on a diet. - 11/24/2008   9:50:49 AM
  • 100
    I think our pets are unhealthly because we are an unhealthy society as a whole. I do monitor my dogs' weight and I can say despite the fact I'm overweight they are not. At least someone in the house is managing their weight. LOL! - 11/24/2008   7:55:25 AM
  • GENTRY33
    Since getting fit myself, my Red is looking slimmer too. It can go both ways. - 11/23/2008   4:07:58 PM
  • 98
  • 97
    Our pets health is all on us. If I walk my Rosie just twice a week for a half hour and feed her chichen and eggs twice a week along with her dry ,100% complete nutrition dog food, not only does she maintain a healthy weight, but her thyroid condition is controlled w/o medication. They are a part of our family, one part that we have complete control over. Is there really any good reason to not make sure they are at their healthiest? - 11/22/2008   8:48:45 AM
  • 96
    I used to be lazy when it came to exercising ,even the dog. I used to just open the door and he would go in the garden. But since joining Spark People and taking the dog for walks he has lost some weight, and he keeps me motivated as he looks forward to going out and reminds me it is time. - 11/22/2008   6:16:21 AM
  • 95
    Long before I found Spark, I told my dogs, each when I adopted him (I have three) that I was the only one allowed to be overweight in this household. And I've stuck to it. Often wished I had someone to dish my food for me, so I'd only get what I needed, and now I'm learning to do it for myself. About time, too. Now I tell my recent adoptees, that NO one in this house is allowed to become overweight. They all listen with their big brown eyes fixed on--the biscuit tin. Sigh. - 11/22/2008   1:20:33 AM
  • 94
    U have a 3 year old tabby cat named Thor who was a big boy even at 4 months when we got him. He was up to 23 pounds, and is now down to between 22 and 21.6 pounds. He is on r/d prescription food and can have 3/4 to 1 cup a day to get to 18 pounds. We are trying, and has has lost some weight since the last week in Aug. I am told cats have to lose weight very slowly or they could get into big trouble. You can see his picture on my Spark Page. - 11/21/2008   10:54:09 PM
  • 93
    That's a lot of overweight pets...that's so sad! Hahaha, I wish there was a a minute I got excited. SparkPeople SHOULD include some ideas on how to help your pets be more active. I have a cat that is pretty lazy and a lot of times, despite my efforts to play with him, he'd rather just sleep all day. I would love some ideas on how to help him to want to play. :D - 11/21/2008   12:44:45 PM
    I have only one cat who is overweight. I measure his food per feeding. He used to be a feral, so I think he was used to eating as much as possible when he did find food. I keep him separated from my other cats who free feed with no weight problem -- in fact two of them are on the skinny side.

    I also have dogs, and feed them measured amounts twice a day since two of them are older and not getting as much exercise, plus one is a breed that tends to put on weight easily. I free feed my Yorkie since she tends not to eat enough at times and gets low blood sugar. - 11/21/2008   11:36:14 AM
  • 91
    I try to watch that my dogs are not overweight....exercise and portion table scraps ect.
    My cat (on the other had) they gain weight in the winter due to staying inside and just laying around...they thin out some in the summer getting back outside.
    - 11/21/2008   11:13:32 AM
  • GAYLE22311
    My doggy " Sparky," a JackRussel mix was extremely overweight this last visit to the vet. My vet told me this was because I had been sick and even tho Sparky was still active he also was a bit worried about me and his anxiety levels were produceing fat. Well this man is a vet but sometimes I wonder about him.............however now Spark and I walk everyday, he on a leash and I on a walker. It's not a fast walk but its usually a long one. When I am on my stationary bike he is at my side chaseing his tail. To make a long story short, if I move he moves & if I sit, he sits. His diet is strictly Dog Chow. He never gets human food. - 11/21/2008   10:40:58 AM
  • 89
    I have a fat cat and an overweight dog. I need to do something for them but it's hard when there is also a fit dog and a fit cat in the house. I will check out the and to see what it's all about. Thanks for sharing. - 11/21/2008   10:30:45 AM
  • 88
    I lost about 10 pounds shortly after getting my high-energy large-breed puppy. She's the best exercise motivator around - she loves to run and play, she's very sociable with people and other dogs, and, well, the carpet suffers the consequences if I don't take her out. :) She's very lean, and eats NO people food, besides the occasional scoop of peanut butter in her Kong toy. The side bonus to that is that she doesn't know what she's missing when I'm in the kitchen, and she does NOT beg. Fabulous! - 11/21/2008   10:10:08 AM
  • 87
    I love cats. So easy to take care of. They exercise themselves, and dont usually eat more then they need. All you have to do is pet them for a few minutes each day and they are happy. My current cat is part siamese. A bit larger then most and has alot of puffy fur. Its hard to tell if it could be a fatty or not. It is very active though. It does not like people food, which is awsome. Hubby was cutting up some ham and a bit fell on the floor next to the cat. The cat sniffed it and looked at Hubby then walked off! For treats it gets greenies, but only if it did not keep us up all night. - 11/21/2008   10:09:45 AM
  • 86
    I have 2 cats and a Shar-pei. One cat is overweight the other is not. They only eat cat food but putting one cat on a diet when they eat from the same bowl means the fat one eats and the skinny one doesn't. I only wish I was as lean as the dog. She is fed her "dog food" we make for her. I mix brown rice, mixed veggies, and either lean ground turkey or chicken with a scrambled egg. I tried feeding her several brands of commercial dog food but she kept getting sores on her skin and losing what little fur she has so my vet told me to give her a food without milk and supplement this. She eats this so much better than commercial dog food. It also ends up being a little more cost effective, I buy the meat on sale portion it out and freeze it, and the rest of it is relatively inexpensive anyway. Of course her love of the leash also helps her maintain her girlie figure, and is getting me some much needed exercise. - 11/21/2008   10:04:28 AM
  • 85
    We have two dogs one of which was overweight. When we started walking on a regular basis, she weighed 99 pounds. Now with their walks and cutting back her food, she weighs a healthy 65 pounds. The owners can make all the difference in the world! - 11/21/2008   8:15:16 AM
  • 84
    You all may not believe this, but I have a basset hound who needs to gain weight! I recently switched his food to Blue. I used to feed him Iams, but he just doesn't put on weight (and yes, he's been wormed and all of that). One thing in his favor- he's very active. He LOVES to go for walks, and during the summer he'll happily walk three miles a day with me. We do about 20 minutes of "sniff and pee" and then get down to serious walking and he loves it. I don't feed him people food, and I make sure he gets nutritious treats- things I should have been doing for myself a long time ago. - 11/21/2008   5:48:51 AM
  • 83
    None of my cats or dogs has been fat. They have access to water and dry food 24/7. The cat I have right now loves cucumbers and dried apricot. I give him a little of what I eat like veggies, fish or meat, usually he just want a bite or 2 of my food.

    Maryam - 11/21/2008   5:44:28 AM
  • 82
    My cat Mufasa is 18 pounds and 3 years old.. he is truly a BIG cat not Fat according to the vet who examined him last year.. yet this year the partner said he needs to lose 2 pounds even though he was the same weight last year. Mufasa's sister, Pasta Fagioli is more petite and smaller in length too she is 9.8 pounds. FUnny how the same litter has 2 cats who are so different! We bought more toys to play with them with and cut back on his food and treats. - 11/21/2008   5:01:10 AM
  • 80
    I talked it over with my (slim) cat. He sais hee's pleased with dry food for the whole day so he can munch on it as a cat should. He also likes the little tuna or chicken he gets as a snack as wel as the ration wetfood when I come home ... The only way he tels me that he would get fat if I would induldge him in bad fat non-cat food ... `he thinks that fat dogs and cats isn't because of dogs and cats, but because of humans. I think he's right ... - 11/21/2008   2:02:14 AM
  • 79
    This may have already been posted, but if you follow the feeding instructions on almost all pet foods (at least cat food), you will overfeed your pet. I give our cat about half of what the instructions say and he is maintaining his weight (could stand to lose a few ounces still, we call him "Chubby Tums" when he runs). Unless your animal is VERY active, ignore what the pet food package says. The manufacturers just want you to buy more pet food. By the way, the only "people" food he gets is the occasional bit of stewed chicken or tuna juice we strain from the can. - 11/21/2008   12:33:44 AM
  • 78
    I read somewhere that ... if your dog is too fat, YOU'RE not getting enough exercise. That said....I think I need a dog. - 11/21/2008   12:26:14 AM
  • 77
    I think pets are more overweight and unhealthy today because of our society. We don't excercise as much. We aren't out there walking our pets. We try to feed our pets the very best... but are we thinking of the portion control size? Also there are so many pollutants in the air... it enters their lungs and ours.
    But also, one thing I must also point out, because we have more technology and are more aware of the diseases out there, we are able to catch it earlier on or be able to discover it. So a long time ago, if these diseases were also slowly on the rise, because we did not have knowledge about it nor the technology to detect it, that may be another cause for an outburst of it today...
    And lastly, one more thing to bring up is that our image of what a healthy body (and pet's body) has changed from before. Either we think we should be extremely stick thin or we think we should be "well- rounded" because it shows that we are good eaters and we have wealth because it is accepted in the culture we were brought up, etc...
    But as you can see, there are many, many answers and questions that stem from this topic. - 11/20/2008   10:30:59 PM
    I have two cats who are not over weight. Although I have seen a couple of pets that are way over weight. I think that should a domesticated animal be over weight, it's because the owners have over indulge there pets. You can still love your pet and not over feed them. Which is better for the animal. - 11/20/2008   10:12:02 PM
  • 75
    Now for - 11/20/2008   8:15:06 PM
  • 74
    I am a vet and used to see a lot of over-weight animals (not due to medical reasons) and they were often accompanied by matching people I have to say. Now I do more holistic vet care and the animals I see eat more natural diets I am seeing much healthier not overweight animals. - 11/20/2008   8:14:36 PM
    Most pets are overweight because they are over fed. My dogs get "human" food all the time, but small bites at the end of the meal. My dogs compete in agility. They aren't overweight. If you think that 1/4 cup of kibble doesn't look like enough, put it in a smaller bowl!

    Just a reminder. Onions destroy red blood cells in dogs and cause anemia. Avoid chocolate. Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs. The artificial sweetener Xylitol is highly toxic also. You should contact your vet if your dog injests any of these foods. Toxicity levels vary from dog to dog. So one dog may tolorate a higher dose while another may react to a very small amount.

    Time to feed the dogs! - 11/20/2008   5:50:47 PM
    I feed my 4 cats human food all the time. Mostly meat, and only the parts that don't have any seasoning on them. Sometimes one of them will have some veggies. I also feed them raw meet every time I have some fresh stuff that I am cutting up (they can't eat raw meat if it has been frozen, it destroys an enzyme they need). Also I give my Seline milk all the time, but only because she is so skinny. - 11/20/2008   4:17:34 PM
    My dog, Georgia, is overweight. I started taking her on walks with me and feeding her a different type of dog food and so far she's lost 11 lbs. Only 10 lbs. more to go and then she'll be back to her healthy self! Once she loses the weight, I'm thinking of switching her to an all-natural dog food that's main ingredient is some sort of meat instead of a grain or corn. - 11/20/2008   3:54:49 PM
  • 70
    Our horses have to diet frequently because the pasture where we have them is too rich and they need the exercise. Initially they don't really want to be exercised and ridden and will expend quite a bit of energy to give their human handler a tough time. After weeks of regular work, if they're neglected for a couple days, they'll start hollering for attention. I think somewhere in their horse brain they realize exercise makes them feel good, and it certainly makes them look better, think better and do more things. Left to their own devices they'd all be grumpy hippos. - 11/20/2008   3:51:33 PM
    my dashound Celina gained weight the last year I had my shepherd, Eliza was 14 and she just couldn't the long walks any more. After I lost her in the spring we welcomed a new puppy into our home. Emma was 4 months, now a year. In that time little Celina has walked her little legs off keeping up. And has lost 2 lbs. Vet very happy. She is now all muscle. No fat at all. Course she and I have our own personally trainer who insists we get up every morning 7 days a week that we have to get up and walk. Its the wet nose to ear and paw to forehead that gets us out walking, rain, snow or sun. - 11/20/2008   3:47:59 PM
    My inlaws cocker is SO fat,it makes me sick looking at her!! She is fed pancakes loaded with butter and syrup. Not right at all !!! - 11/20/2008   3:47:56 PM
  • 67
    We have always gotten rescue dogs for pets.In 1991 we got a beautiful female mix(beagle,basset hound,spaniel)Her name was Princess and she had had 3-4 homes,she was 5yrs old.We named her Chubbs (because she was short and voluptuous!)My boys were 13 & 10 and they loved her to death along with all their friends.They would have a sleep over and Chubbs could always be found in the sea of sleeping bags.Needless to say she began to gain weight because of all the treats they gave her.She blossomed to 52 lbs.The Vet said she needed to loseat least 10% body weight.We put her on Science Diet,she got down to 44lbs. and she lived until she was 15.Since then all our dogs get their food measured,limited treats, and lots of play. - 11/20/2008   3:07:41 PM
  • HAG2NUT2000
    My poor beasty is always on a diet, and she is pretty good as long as the garbage is behind a locked door. She goes on 3-5 mile a day walks, but unfortunately, she is still overweight and has arthritis and pancreatitis because of it. When we got her from our Humane Society, she was supposed to be a 3 year old border collie, springer spaniel combo, but we have since found out that if an older dog is at the Society too long, it's age mysteriously lowers overnight and people are more apt to adopt a younger dog. We have had her 4 years now and her nose is turning white. Just like me, it's harder to lose weight as you get older. - 11/20/2008   2:41:01 PM
  • 65
    (when medical conditions aren't at fault, that is) - 11/20/2008   1:57:08 PM
  • 64
    Over weight kids and over weight pets break my heart. The owners and parents should be ashamed of themselves. - 11/20/2008   1:44:42 PM
  • 63
    When I started getting more active, it all involved walking the dog. The vet has had me increase the amount of food she gets twice already, because she got too skinny. I was shocked at how a little exercise really affected her. - 11/20/2008   1:12:02 PM
  • 62
    I free feed my Birmans and they do not have a weight problem. Do make a point to see that they have toys for the day to play with and also play with them at night to make sure they exercise. They get a little wet food at night (1 small can for 3 cats). Especially after all the food problems, I am very picky what I feed them. Cats need protein and I feed them high protein food. They are not veggie eaters. I think the quality of food makes as big difference as it does for us. - 11/20/2008   12:37:48 PM
  • 61
    Wow, it's not bad enough that we're making ourselves and our children fat with the way we eat, now we're affecting our poor pets. - 11/20/2008   12:35:50 PM
  • 60
    We put our cats on a strict eating program. We fed them seperately. Bowl down for 20 minutes twice a day. End of time, bowls were picked up. In the beginning they would much and walk away. So the bowl got picked up. They learned very quickly to eat when they saw the food, cause it would be back until the next feeding. Treats were also decreased and counted out. It was all worth it. They lost weight and we worked more on playing with interactive toys. - 11/20/2008   12:20:34 PM

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