Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

What's up, dog? Lots of carrots!

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I think Bugs Bunny had it right -- you can't beat a nice carrot.

The bright-orange root vegetables are working miracles for my miniature wiener dog Zoe, who has been steadily losing weight since we started the Fit Pet Project, our monthly series of articles on the issues surrounding an epidemic of overweight and obese pets.

Yes, our official "Fit Pet spokes-dog" has been on a prescription diet and exercise program, but I'm giving carrots -- the miniature peeled variety -- a lot of the credit for her success so far.

Instead of high-calorie store-bought treats, I now give my less-pudgy pal tiny carrots as a reward. And I make her metabolic diet kibble more appealing with a sprinkling of shaved carrot strips.

The result? Back in January, my lethargic pet tipped the scales at a hefty 8.6 kilograms, whereas the breed standard says she should be 5.5 kg at most.

At her last weigh-in on May 6, she was down to 7.1 kg, which may not sound like much but is a huge percentage of the body weight of a small dog.

"She's down another 4.5 per cent since her last weigh-in, which is really good," said our vet, Dr. Jim Broughton, owner of Exclusively Cats Animal Hospital on Corydon Avenue.

"The amount she's lost is the equivalent of a 190-pound man losing 32.5 pounds. That really puts it in perspective. I don't know anybody who wouldn't be ecstatic with that amount on a human weight-loss program."

Broughton agreed baby carrots are far better for dogs than the store-bought snacks. He noted most owners are in the dark about how many calories treats can add to a pet's diet.

"Carrots are good for their digestion," our vet noted. "They're also very good for their teeth. They're very effective at removing plaque. Carrots can help them feel full without filling them with unneeded calories.

"And they like the taste. They're absolutely better than store-bought treats."

As she sheds pounds, Zoe is gaining energy and is far more likely to jump up on the couch and chase the bunnies in our backyard.

I don't think Bugs would be too happy about that second thing.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 20, 2014 D5

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