Programs Offer Cardio, Swimming, Encouragement And Healthy Treats

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Humans aren’t the only ones fighting the battle of the bulge these days. New research says that your dog may be packing on the pounds as well.

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Now, many pet owners are turning to animal “fat camps” to keep the fat off of their furry friends, CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported Friday.

Veterinarians at Morris Animal Inn, in Morristown, N.J., hear the same excuses about pet weight problems that doctors hear from their human patients.

The Inn is one of a growing number of places where pet owners can take their animals to get in shape.

“We’ve seen hundreds of dogs go through the program and we’ve seen a lot of success,” said marketing manager Debora Montgomery.

The Inn’s program is customized based on the health, weight, age, and stamina of the dog. Ross, an 11-year-old terrier mix, lost more than 10 pounds in three months on the program.

“We have swimming, K-9 cardio,” Montgomery said. “We do weigh-ins so we’re able to monitor their progress.”

The dogs run on a treadmill, swim in a pool, and run stairs with a trainer while staff members are on hand to motivate them.

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“We’re here to cheer them on and we want them to do well, so that’s our goal,” Montgomery said.

The obesity rate among pets is soaring, and veterinarians told CBS 2’s Johnson that weight control should be a priority.

“It does exacerbate a lot of underlying health conditions, like if they have arthritis, any respiratory disease, heart disease,” ASPCA staff internist Kristen Frank explained.

Experts said that if you can’t feel your dog’s ribs it may be time for some exercise.

“People love their pets and they want to reward them, but I think they sometimes over-reward them,” Frank said.

After a day of working out the tired pups are treated to healthy snacks, like yogurt parfait, and a dip in a doggie jacuzzi. Owners said they thrilled with the results.

“I see the difference in her and her energy level,” Roxana Sheikh said.

Prices can vary depending on the camp, but generally range from $50 per day to $200 per week. Sleep-away camps are available as well, depending on the needs of your animal.

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