For most of us, our pets are like our family members. We spoil them, they sleep in bed with us, and many times they eat like us—and sit around like us. Because of this, trends in pet obesity are on the rise, just like it is in owners. In fact, The fourth annual 2011 Association for Pet Obesity Prevention National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Study found that approximately 53 percent of cats and 55 percent of dogs were overweight or obese. But host of The Biggest Loser Alison Sweeney is putting a national call to action for Americans to help get their pets fitter and healthier with a million pound challenge sponsored by Hill's Science Diet.
While the site for the challenge (www.PetFit.com) is full of weight-management tips for you and your pooch, we had the chance to talk to Sweeney for some of her top tips on getting your pup—and subsequently you—healthy and active!
3 Tips to Lose Weight with Your Pup
1. Educate yourself on portion distortion. Sweeney is no stranger to pet weight-loss. Her Boston Terrier Winky was recently told by the vet to lose several pounds. Sweeney's first step in doing so? Getting her pet-portion knowledge on. For example, she learned that when you feed a 20-pound dog 1 ounce of cheddar cheese, it's the equivalent of a 5-foot-4-inch woman eating one and a half hamburgers or one chocolate bar. Or in the case of cats, giving a 10-pound cat 1 cup of milk is the same as a 5-foot-4-inch woman eating four and a half hamburgers or five chocolate bars. Makes you rethink giving your pet those table scraps doesn't it? And if you love your pet enough not to give it unhealthy food, why wouldn't you do the same for yourself?
2. Set goals. It's good to have an idea of just how much weight you and your pet need to lose and then set a reasonable amount of time to do it. While a pace of 1 to 2 pounds a week is safe and reasonable for humans, the size of your pet determines what's a safe rate for him or her, so check with your vet. But make sure that both of you weigh-in weekly to track and celebrate your progress with a new toy to play with!
3. Get active. Sweeney got her entire family engaged with helping Winky to be more active. From playing games in the backyard to going hiking to taking walks around the neighborhood, being fit was a top priority and one that paid off—and continues to benefit the whole family. Winky is now at a healthy weight and in the process the entire family gets more activity, she says!
So what are you waiting for? Pledge those pounds to get your pet healthy!
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.