Even Animals Have To Shed Some Pounds Too!

By: Stacy McCloud
By: Stacy McCloud

When you see an overweight animal, you may say, "oh how cute", but veterinarians say, not at all!
In response to a rise in pet obesity, UT's veterinary clinic is offering one on one training to help your pooch shed those extra pounds.
Volunteer TV's Stacy McCloud brings you a look at this unique weight loss camp.
With the warm water, soothing jets, and lots of love and attention, you would think Toby and Sassy were at a doggy day spa.
But forget about relaxation here, these guys are working up quite a sweat.
Taking strides in an underwater treadmill in order to shed some pounds through UT veterinary schools in-patient weight loss program, better known as "fat camp!"
Angela Lusby, a nutrition resident says, "it's kind of like how we are, it's can be hard to get those initial pounds off and get everything started so this program is a way for them to come in, stay for a couple of weeks and get the weight loss kick-started."
It's a team effort here at camp. Lusby specializes in nutrition.
"We can be firmer with the diet which can be hard with owners and with pets begging."
Lusby's the one that says "no" to fatty treats and food left out for free will.
Instead she comes up with the perfect diet plan for every patient.
"We calculate how many calories they need for their ideal weight."
Then there's Karen House.
You could call her the resident "personal trainer" there, keeping patients moving.
For these schnauzer siblings it's at a challenging pace at least 15 minutes twice a day.
Once dry and rested, they also get lots of outside time.
Trading in a few extra steps to earn a special treat.
UT's been conducting fat camp for about a year and a half now and with around 30 percent of the pet population getting larger it's something they say is necessary to ensure some pets live longer healthier lives.
Lusby continues, "we see joint problems, that is a big one in cats and dogs, they can have arthritis, ligaments tear, in addition you have diabetes, hormonal issues so it's a real medical problem"
After two long hard weeks of work, the typical time spent at camp, Toby and Sassy are ready to go home.
House says, "i missed them a lot but i accomplished what i came here for and they are going to be healthier and happier."
And the dogs were successful!
They each lost about two pounds.
Sassy lost ten percent of her body weight, Toby 8 percent of his.
Lusby says, "most pets wont reach goal in two weeks it takes 3,4, even 6 months."
UT says having a boarded nutritionist on staff means only a couple other places in the world could have a program like this one.
They say while they have never had a feline as an in-patient at "fat camp", cats are welcome too.
However, they may be better suited for outpatient programs.
For more information on the camp and outpatient programs call 974-8387.
http://www.vet.utk.edu/clinical/sacs/


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