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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fat cats and husky dogs

Obesity in pets is on the rise and the blame rests with owners -- as does the cure

Posted: 01/28/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 01/28/2014 9:34 AM | Updates

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  • Midas, a 12-year-old terrier/ border cross, once weighed in at 102 lbs., then lost 16 lbs. with the help of owner JoAnne Sexsmith who replaced his usual treats with mini carrots. Midas has gained a bit of weight lately, due mainly to the cold weather and a touch of arthritis, and now weighs 90 lbs. His target weight is in the 75 to 80-lb. range. Midas' family will be joining him on his diet for January and February.
Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Midas, a 12-year-old terrier/ border cross, once weighed in at 102 lbs., then lost 16 lbs. with the help of owner JoAnne Sexsmith who replaced his usual treats with mini carrots. Midas has gained a bit of weight lately, due mainly to the cold weather and a touch of arthritis, and now weighs 90 lbs. His target weight is in the 75 to 80-lb. range. Midas' family will be joining him on his diet for January and February. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Here is another shot of Midas, all ears in the snow. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Here is another shot of Midas, all ears in the snow. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project.

  • Guinness is a 1 1/2 year old French bulldog. Owner Devan Labelle says their vet has declared Guinness healthy at 35 lbs., although that is seven pounds heavier than the breed standard. But the vet warns Guinness, who has a sportier body than the average French bulldog and is quite muscular, should not gain more weight. Devan likens breed standards to BMIs for people: they don’t always tell the whole story. Here is Guinness in his favourite position on his favourite perch. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted

    Guinness is a 1 1/2 year old French bulldog. Owner Devan Labelle says their vet has declared Guinness healthy at 35 lbs., although that is seven pounds heavier than the breed standard. But the vet warns Guinness, who has a sportier body than the average French bulldog and is quite muscular, should not gain more weight. Devan likens breed standards to BMIs for people: they don’t always tell the whole story. Here is Guinness in his favourite position on his favourite perch. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Cruiser is a seven year old Imperial Shih Tzu who weighs 4 lbs., 11 oz., a weight that never fluctuates. He eats a Pet Valu, no-grain food and an occasional treat of dehydrated liver or chicken. Owner Debbie Burton says Cruiser has been gluten-free since long before gluten-free became popular. She blames gluten and sugar for the obesity problem among both people and their pets. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    Cruiser is a seven year old Imperial Shih Tzu who weighs 4 lbs., 11 oz., a weight that never fluctuates. He eats a Pet Valu, no-grain food and an occasional treat of dehydrated liver or chicken. Owner Debbie Burton says Cruiser has been gluten-free since long before gluten-free became popular. She blames gluten and sugar for the obesity problem among both people and their pets. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Here’s Miss Molly who is four years old. Her owner Cathy Kenny (aka Mom) says: this Devine Miss M weighs 15 pounds and for a mini dachshund, that’s a little too much. We do walk every day it’s not cold outside. But she does eat with us at the table, table scraps, too.  I know it’s a no-no, but it is hard to say no to those beautiful eyes and wagging tail. We also hand out treats. Please help me get Miss Molly healthy. Thanks for running this excellent advice in the Winnipeg Free Press. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Here’s Miss Molly who is four years old. Her owner Cathy Kenny (aka Mom) says: this Devine Miss M weighs 15 pounds and for a mini dachshund, that’s a little too much. We do walk every day it’s not cold outside. But she does eat with us at the table, table scraps, too. I know it’s a no-no, but it is hard to say no to those beautiful eyes and wagging tail. We also hand out treats. Please help me get Miss Molly healthy. Thanks for running this excellent advice in the Winnipeg Free Press. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Roxy is a 1 1/2year old golden retriever. Her owner, Alice Spence, says she learned her lesson about controlling a dog’s weight from her last dog, Tessie, who was a wonderful dog, but the family spoiled her with too many treats, including gravy and jujubes. (Meet Tessie in the next photo.) Now, they keep Roxy at her target weight of 61 pounds by feeding her only dog food, not table scraps, and walking her at least twice a day and taking daily off-leash runs. As an added bonus, Alice says, the family has stayed slim and trim, too. Alice’s best dog-slimming advice? Don’t love your pets to death. Junk food and table scraps are not doing your dog any favours. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Roxy is a 1 1/2year old golden retriever. Her owner, Alice Spence, says she learned her lesson about controlling a dog’s weight from her last dog, Tessie, who was a wonderful dog, but the family spoiled her with too many treats, including gravy and jujubes. (Meet Tessie in the next photo.) Now, they keep Roxy at her target weight of 61 pounds by feeding her only dog food, not table scraps, and walking her at least twice a day and taking daily off-leash runs. As an added bonus, Alice says, the family has stayed slim and trim, too. Alice’s best dog-slimming advice? Don’t love your pets to death. Junk food and table scraps are not doing your dog any favours. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is Tessie, Alice Spence’s previous dog. (Meet her current dog Roxy in the last slide.) Here Tessie is with her good friend Liv. Tessie was a rescue dog from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, rescued when she was only a day old and the umbilical cord was still attached.  It didn’t seem she could survive, but with tender loving care, she did. Unfortunately, Alice says, they loved her way too much,  spoiling her with treats, gravy on her food and  jujubes.  Tessie's weight crept upwards. To make matters worse, she had very short legs and her body became very round.  Once Tessie had packed on the extra pounds, it was very difficult to get them off.  Exercise was almost impossible due to arthritis. Tessie did make it to the ripe old age of 13. Considering her obesity and mobility difficulties, this was exceptional. Alice’s advice?  Don't love your pets to death.  Junk food and table scraps are not doing your dog any favours. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Tessie, Alice Spence’s previous dog. (Meet her current dog Roxy in the last slide.) Here Tessie is with her good friend Liv. Tessie was a rescue dog from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, rescued when she was only a day old and the umbilical cord was still attached. It didn’t seem she could survive, but with tender loving care, she did. Unfortunately, Alice says, they loved her way too much, spoiling her with treats, gravy on her food and jujubes. Tessie's weight crept upwards. To make matters worse, she had very short legs and her body became very round. Once Tessie had packed on the extra pounds, it was very difficult to get them off. Exercise was almost impossible due to arthritis. Tessie did make it to the ripe old age of 13. Considering her obesity and mobility difficulties, this was exceptional. Alice’s advice? Don't love your pets to death. Junk food and table scraps are not doing your dog any favours. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is Leonard who was rescued after someone almost ran over a litter of kittens left on a country road. Owner Alice Spence says he was very skinny when they adopted him, but Leonard quickly made up for lost time. How he loved to eat! Every time someone entered the kitchen, he wanted to hear the sound of kibble going into the dish, even if there was still food in it. Leonard lived 13 years and became overweight partly because of his always wanting more food, but mostly, Alice says, because the family gave in to his wishes. They learned the importance of not caving in. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Leonard who was rescued after someone almost ran over a litter of kittens left on a country road. Owner Alice Spence says he was very skinny when they adopted him, but Leonard quickly made up for lost time. How he loved to eat! Every time someone entered the kitchen, he wanted to hear the sound of kibble going into the dish, even if there was still food in it. Leonard lived 13 years and became overweight partly because of his always wanting more food, but mostly, Alice says, because the family gave in to his wishes. They learned the importance of not caving in. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Gizmo is a male Pekingese, three-years-old. He weighs 19 lbs., and his owner, Connie Liwanag, would like him to slim down to 14 lbs. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    Gizmo is a male Pekingese, three-years-old. He weighs 19 lbs., and his owner, Connie Liwanag, would like him to slim down to 14 lbs. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Chewbie is a male Shih Tzu, four-years-old. He weighs in at 22 lbs. Owner Connie Liwanag would like to see him drop six lbs. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    Chewbie is a male Shih Tzu, four-years-old. He weighs in at 22 lbs. Owner Connie Liwanag would like to see him drop six lbs. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Roxie is a five-year-old  Lhasa Apso/ Maltese cross who weighs in at three kilograms. Owners Charlotte and Will Tataryn have a trick to keep Roxie at her healthy weight. They say dogs are more excited to get a treat because of the attention involved rather than the content of the actual treat. The Tataryns outwit their dogs Roxie and Razz (see next photo)  by keeping a handful of dry dog kibble in the dogs’ “treat bowl.” The words “Treat!” or “What do good girls get?” make the dogs happy as they receive a piece of their usual kibble, no extra calories required. “Our four-legged children just want love and a symbol of it, whether it's kibble, an ear scratch or just that silly look we share with them,” says Charlotte. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    Roxie is a five-year-old Lhasa Apso/ Maltese cross who weighs in at three kilograms. Owners Charlotte and Will Tataryn have a trick to keep Roxie at her healthy weight. They say dogs are more excited to get a treat because of the attention involved rather than the content of the actual treat. The Tataryns outwit their dogs Roxie and Razz (see next photo) by keeping a handful of dry dog kibble in the dogs’ “treat bowl.” The words “Treat!” or “What do good girls get?” make the dogs happy as they receive a piece of their usual kibble, no extra calories required. “Our four-legged children just want love and a symbol of it, whether it's kibble, an ear scratch or just that silly look we share with them,” says Charlotte. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Razz – aka Razzmatazz or Razzle Dazzle or RazzmatazzleDazzle -- is a seven year old Lhasa Apso, just shy of six kilograms. Her owners, Charlotte and Will Tataryn, say it’s important for Razz to stay at that healthy weight following major surgery in 2011 to remove eroded, arthritic bone on her upper leg. It’s just as important as keeping her active, something she started on right after the surgery. She became the “miracle dog,” amazing her vet by running like a carefree puppy in less than eight weeks after the debilitating surgery. It’s the second miracle in Razz’s life. Razz and a sibling, Barkley, were puppy-napped from a breeder and had to be rescued by police. Charlotte and Will saw her photo in the paper, fell in love and tracked down the breeder to buy her. Later, Will became a “treat sneaker,” Charlotte confides, but Razz’s scales ratted him out, and their vet gave a very effective pep talk about how unhealthy and unfair it was to sneak her treats. The Tataryns say they now know praise, appreciation and attention make great treats. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    Razz – aka Razzmatazz or Razzle Dazzle or RazzmatazzleDazzle -- is a seven year old Lhasa Apso, just shy of six kilograms. Her owners, Charlotte and Will Tataryn, say it’s important for Razz to stay at that healthy weight following major surgery in 2011 to remove eroded, arthritic bone on her upper leg. It’s just as important as keeping her active, something she started on right after the surgery. She became the “miracle dog,” amazing her vet by running like a carefree puppy in less than eight weeks after the debilitating surgery. It’s the second miracle in Razz’s life. Razz and a sibling, Barkley, were puppy-napped from a breeder and had to be rescued by police. Charlotte and Will saw her photo in the paper, fell in love and tracked down the breeder to buy her. Later, Will became a “treat sneaker,” Charlotte confides, but Razz’s scales ratted him out, and their vet gave a very effective pep talk about how unhealthy and unfair it was to sneak her treats. The Tataryns say they now know praise, appreciation and attention make great treats. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • These two lovely brothers are George and Oscar. Owner Donald Musson says they hit just over 21 lbs. and were ordered by their vet to lose weight. They started on diet food which led to George losing three pounds and Oscar to gain a bit, proving metabolism is a fickle beast. See next slide for a slimmed down George and the one after for a plumped up Oscar. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    These two lovely brothers are George and Oscar. Owner Donald Musson says they hit just over 21 lbs. and were ordered by their vet to lose weight. They started on diet food which led to George losing three pounds and Oscar to gain a bit, proving metabolism is a fickle beast. See next slide for a slimmed down George and the one after for a plumped up Oscar. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • George lost three pounds by eating diet food, bringing his weight down to just under 19 lbs. He still has a few to go. But not as many as his brother Oscar (next photo) who managed to gain a bit eating the same diet food. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    George lost three pounds by eating diet food, bringing his weight down to just under 19 lbs. He still has a few to go. But not as many as his brother Oscar (next photo) who managed to gain a bit eating the same diet food. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Oscar weighed just over 21 lbs. and managed to gain once he was put on diet food, proving metabolism is a fickle thing. His vet is supervising his efforts to lose some of his 21-plus-pound bulk. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    Oscar weighed just over 21 lbs. and managed to gain once he was put on diet food, proving metabolism is a fickle thing. His vet is supervising his efforts to lose some of his 21-plus-pound bulk. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Oscar has lost a pound. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Oscar has lost a pound. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project.

  • Meet Mylo, an almost three-year-old Jack Russell terrier. He’s a typical Jack, very busy, very active. He really keeps his family hopping, says owner Alexis Casemore. Mylo weighs 7.7 kilos and his target weight is five kilos. His problem is he shares his family with two other dogs who do well with free feeding (meaning food is available all the time) while Mylo eats non-stop. When they tried set feeding times, one of the other dogs, Diego the Chihuahua, went into shaking spasms from not eating because he refuses to eat all at once. Alexis knows they will have to be creative to help Mylo lose his weight. The plan includes lots and lots of exercise. Meet Diego in the next photo and their other dog friend Tai in the one after. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Meet Mylo, an almost three-year-old Jack Russell terrier. He’s a typical Jack, very busy, very active. He really keeps his family hopping, says owner Alexis Casemore. Mylo weighs 7.7 kilos and his target weight is five kilos. His problem is he shares his family with two other dogs who do well with free feeding (meaning food is available all the time) while Mylo eats non-stop. When they tried set feeding times, one of the other dogs, Diego the Chihuahua, went into shaking spasms from not eating because he refuses to eat all at once. Alexis knows they will have to be creative to help Mylo lose his weight. The plan includes lots and lots of exercise. Meet Diego in the next photo and their other dog friend Tai in the one after. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is Diego, a five-year-old Chihuahua who weighs 3.4 kilos, a good weight for him, says owner Alexis Casemore. We think he is a very regal looking Chihuahua. His doggie brother, Mylo, is working to lose his extra weight, gained from eating Diego’s dinner. See Mylo in the last photo, and their other doggie brother Tai in the next. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    This is Diego, a five-year-old Chihuahua who weighs 3.4 kilos, a good weight for him, says owner Alexis Casemore. We think he is a very regal looking Chihuahua. His doggie brother, Mylo, is working to lose his extra weight, gained from eating Diego’s dinner. See Mylo in the last photo, and their other doggie brother Tai in the next. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is Tai, at 14, the senior dog in the Casemore household. Tai is a black border collie/ German shepherd cross. Tai weighs 29.8 kilos, a healthy weight, says owner Alexis Casemore.  Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    This is Tai, at 14, the senior dog in the Casemore household. Tai is a black border collie/ German shepherd cross. Tai weighs 29.8 kilos, a healthy weight, says owner Alexis Casemore. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Buddy (short for Budweiser, which comes with a story) will be 12-years-old on Valentine’s Day. His family is trying to help Buddy drop three to four pounds from his 103-pound frame. Buddy is a purebred mutt, a designer dog as owner Les Pelletier puts it. They think of him as a brand new breed called Big-hairy-lovable, and Buddy certainly looks it. He narrowly dodged being named Standard Lager as American cottage neighbours have a dog called Miller (for the beer) and were lobbying for Les to name the new puppy Standard. They met in the middle with Budweiser. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    Buddy (short for Budweiser, which comes with a story) will be 12-years-old on Valentine’s Day. His family is trying to help Buddy drop three to four pounds from his 103-pound frame. Buddy is a purebred mutt, a designer dog as owner Les Pelletier puts it. They think of him as a brand new breed called Big-hairy-lovable, and Buddy certainly looks it. He narrowly dodged being named Standard Lager as American cottage neighbours have a dog called Miller (for the beer) and were lobbying for Les to name the new puppy Standard. They met in the middle with Budweiser. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Buddy from a new angle. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    Buddy from a new angle. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • These two pals are Baby and Buddy. They may have an 83-pound difference in weight, but they are very close. Their family calls them partners in crime. Buddy is a golden retriever who weighs 92 lbs. and has a goal of losing about 20 lbs. Baby is a nine-pound Chihuahua who ought to lose about five lbs. Baby, 7, was born deaf and with only one eye. Buddy had lost about 15 lbs, but then he started going to visit next door to visit Granddad – who shall remain nameless. Buddy packed that weight back on, but now that Granddad understands not to feed him, his family hopes the weight will come right back off. Buddy’s vet says he could develop heart problems and other illnesses due to that extra weight, so his family is really determined. They are open to any suggestions that would help. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    These two pals are Baby and Buddy. They may have an 83-pound difference in weight, but they are very close. Their family calls them partners in crime. Buddy is a golden retriever who weighs 92 lbs. and has a goal of losing about 20 lbs. Baby is a nine-pound Chihuahua who ought to lose about five lbs. Baby, 7, was born deaf and with only one eye. Buddy had lost about 15 lbs, but then he started going to visit next door to visit Granddad – who shall remain nameless. Buddy packed that weight back on, but now that Granddad understands not to feed him, his family hopes the weight will come right back off. Buddy’s vet says he could develop heart problems and other illnesses due to that extra weight, so his family is really determined. They are open to any suggestions that would help. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is Shaddow. His owner Mandy Dankowski says he is four years old and weighs about 20 lbs. He packed on the pounds after Mandy adopted him and had him fixed. The other two cats in the family weigh about 10 lbs. which is what Mandy would like Shaddow to weigh. Shaddow shares a home with two dogs, Buddy and Baby, who are also taking part in the Pet Valu Fit Pet project.

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    This is Shaddow. His owner Mandy Dankowski says he is four years old and weighs about 20 lbs. He packed on the pounds after Mandy adopted him and had him fixed. The other two cats in the family weigh about 10 lbs. which is what Mandy would like Shaddow to weigh. Shaddow shares a home with two dogs, Buddy and Baby, who are also taking part in the Pet Valu Fit Pet project.

  • This is Sidney Morrison Legrand. A purebred dachshund, he is 3 1/2 years old and weighs 25 lbs. Owner Heather Legrand would like him to lose about seven pounds. She calls Sidney her chunkster youngster. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    This is Sidney Morrison Legrand. A purebred dachshund, he is 3 1/2 years old and weighs 25 lbs. Owner Heather Legrand would like him to lose about seven pounds. She calls Sidney her chunkster youngster. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Mylo is a beautiful 15-month old ginger cat. Owner Rachael Holland says Mylo weighs 25 lbs. and his goal is to lose at least five pounds. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    Mylo is a beautiful 15-month old ginger cat. Owner Rachael Holland says Mylo weighs 25 lbs. and his goal is to lose at least five pounds. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is Amber who is 10 years old. According to her pet parents, Victoria and Caroline, she is beginning to show her age. She’s a little slower than she was, a little less keen to play. Her weight, at about 60 lbs., is creeping up. As you can see, Amber has short legs that are carrying a heavy build. Victoria and Caroline admit they’ve been caving to the pressure of Amber’s begging eyes and giving her extra food. They want to see that spark back in those eyes and are thrilled to have this opportunity to take part in Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    This is Amber who is 10 years old. According to her pet parents, Victoria and Caroline, she is beginning to show her age. She’s a little slower than she was, a little less keen to play. Her weight, at about 60 lbs., is creeping up. As you can see, Amber has short legs that are carrying a heavy build. Victoria and Caroline admit they’ve been caving to the pressure of Amber’s begging eyes and giving her extra food. They want to see that spark back in those eyes and are thrilled to have this opportunity to take part in Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • Meet Douglas, a three-year-old English Bulldog with a killer smile. His name is actually Douglas Speirs, like the Free Press’s beloved humour columnist, but Doug the dog is named for owner Lauren Thiessen’s grandfather. She says Doug the dog weighs a hefty 60 lbs. and she’d like to see him slim down to a healthy 54 lbs. He used to help at her store, but since he’s “retired” and does not go to work daily, his weight has crept up on him – as it does to all of us.  Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Meet Douglas, a three-year-old English Bulldog with a killer smile. His name is actually Douglas Speirs, like the Free Press’s beloved humour columnist, but Doug the dog is named for owner Lauren Thiessen’s grandfather. She says Doug the dog weighs a hefty 60 lbs. and she’d like to see him slim down to a healthy 54 lbs. He used to help at her store, but since he’s “retired” and does not go to work daily, his weight has crept up on him – as it does to all of us. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • This is Mischief, known as the Little Grey Cat when she was a kitten. But that was seven years ago when she was found abandoned on a highway, and Mischief has packed on a few pounds since then. She weighs 18 lbs. now. Owner Allan Robertson would like to see her weigh about 11 lbs. The challenge is Mischief lives with a buddy, Cricket, aka Little Black Cat, (see the next photo) who weighs a mere nine lbs. They eat the same food, although admittedly, Mischief gets more of it. Mischief, Allan concedes, has the upper hand when it comes to food. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    This is Mischief, known as the Little Grey Cat when she was a kitten. But that was seven years ago when she was found abandoned on a highway, and Mischief has packed on a few pounds since then. She weighs 18 lbs. now. Owner Allan Robertson would like to see her weigh about 11 lbs. The challenge is Mischief lives with a buddy, Cricket, aka Little Black Cat, (see the next photo) who weighs a mere nine lbs. They eat the same food, although admittedly, Mischief gets more of it. Mischief, Allan concedes, has the upper hand when it comes to food. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • This is Cricket, Mischief’s sidekick (see last photo.)  Cricket, aka Little Black Cat, weighs about nine pounds. Owner Allan Robertson adopted her from Pet Rescue to keep Mischief company. Alas, that has given Mischief access to more food as they are fed the same food at the same times. Cricket is the noisiest cat Allan has ever met. She even meows as she’s jumping. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    This is Cricket, Mischief’s sidekick (see last photo.) Cricket, aka Little Black Cat, weighs about nine pounds. Owner Allan Robertson adopted her from Pet Rescue to keep Mischief company. Alas, that has given Mischief access to more food as they are fed the same food at the same times. Cricket is the noisiest cat Allan has ever met. She even meows as she’s jumping. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is Ethan. He is a lovely little dog, not even considering the rough time he’s had in life -- and it’s been quite a rough time. Owner Kelley Rutkair says he spent the first 2 ½ years of his life in a puppy-mill cage. Because of that, he has calcium buildup in his spine and after being rescued had to have half his teeth removed. Not surprisingly, he has trust issues with people. Kelley adopted Ethan from Manitoba Pug Rescue in May 2013 as a little brother to their 12-year-old dachshund. On a walk, just a month after his adoption, Ethan’s big brother was attacked and killed by a larger dog. Ethan ran home, terrified, and will not wear a leash nor leave the yard anymore. With limited exercise and perhaps too many treats, Kelley says, he has packed on a few extra pounds, not healthy for any dog, but especially not one with spinal problems. Ethan takes Devil’s Claw for that. Because he has few teeth, he was swallowing his hard dog food whole. Now, Kelly makes a delicious dish of rice, veggies and ground beef of which Ethan eats one-half cup twice a day. He really enjoys it. He also enjoys playing with Kelley and with the family cat, Parker. Toys frighten him, particularly squeaky toys which make him run and hide. Kelley would like to take him to a dog park where there are other small dogs for him to play with. He weighed just seven pounds when he was rescued, and Kelley is not sure what he weighs now. But his family is keen to help him lose some of the weight. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    This is Ethan. He is a lovely little dog, not even considering the rough time he’s had in life -- and it’s been quite a rough time. Owner Kelley Rutkair says he spent the first 2 ½ years of his life in a puppy-mill cage. Because of that, he has calcium buildup in his spine and after being rescued had to have half his teeth removed. Not surprisingly, he has trust issues with people. Kelley adopted Ethan from Manitoba Pug Rescue in May 2013 as a little brother to their 12-year-old dachshund. On a walk, just a month after his adoption, Ethan’s big brother was attacked and killed by a larger dog. Ethan ran home, terrified, and will not wear a leash nor leave the yard anymore. With limited exercise and perhaps too many treats, Kelley says, he has packed on a few extra pounds, not healthy for any dog, but especially not one with spinal problems. Ethan takes Devil’s Claw for that. Because he has few teeth, he was swallowing his hard dog food whole. Now, Kelly makes a delicious dish of rice, veggies and ground beef of which Ethan eats one-half cup twice a day. He really enjoys it. He also enjoys playing with Kelley and with the family cat, Parker. Toys frighten him, particularly squeaky toys which make him run and hide. Kelley would like to take him to a dog park where there are other small dogs for him to play with. He weighed just seven pounds when he was rescued, and Kelley is not sure what he weighs now. But his family is keen to help him lose some of the weight. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • The Dude is named for Jeff Bridge’s character in The Big Lebowski, owner Rose-Ann Lavery’s favourite comedy of all time. Like the original Dude, this Dude has to be nudged into activity, sometimes on a treadmill. The family’s other two dogs won’t go on the treadmill, so Rose-Ann gives The Dude A+ for effort. This seven-year-old beagle weighs 38 lbs., so he’s carrying around about eight pounds too much. This Dude, says Rose-Ann, is a nose on four legs who seems to gain weight just breathing air. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

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    The Dude is named for Jeff Bridge’s character in The Big Lebowski, owner Rose-Ann Lavery’s favourite comedy of all time. Like the original Dude, this Dude has to be nudged into activity, sometimes on a treadmill. The family’s other two dogs won’t go on the treadmill, so Rose-Ann gives The Dude A+ for effort. This seven-year-old beagle weighs 38 lbs., so he’s carrying around about eight pounds too much. This Dude, says Rose-Ann, is a nose on four legs who seems to gain weight just breathing air. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • Molly is a happy-go-lucky six-year-old Golden Retriever with a chronic weight problem. Owner Danielle Johnson says Molly weighs about 75 lbs. now and her vet would like her to weigh about 66 lbs. Molly (and her family) don’t love going out in the cold weather, so this winter has been a bit of a setback. Danielle has cut back Molly’s food to three cups a day from four. But her “counter-surfing negates any potential success.” This week Molly ate a whole loaf of bread. That’s nothing compared to the entire box of Merci chocolates and three pairs of baby socks she ate just before Christmas. The socks caused much panic. Danielle followed the vet’s advice to administer peroxide to make Molly vomit and to add Vaseline to soft food to push the socks through. Nada. The socks have never reappeared. But really, it’s Molly’s irresistible big brown eyes that are the problem. She knows the where the rawhide treats live and she stands, staring at the cupboard looking so woebegone, her family folds. “Why do they make dogs so damn cute?!?” Danielle asks. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Molly is a happy-go-lucky six-year-old Golden Retriever with a chronic weight problem. Owner Danielle Johnson says Molly weighs about 75 lbs. now and her vet would like her to weigh about 66 lbs. Molly (and her family) don’t love going out in the cold weather, so this winter has been a bit of a setback. Danielle has cut back Molly’s food to three cups a day from four. But her “counter-surfing negates any potential success.” This week Molly ate a whole loaf of bread. That’s nothing compared to the entire box of Merci chocolates and three pairs of baby socks she ate just before Christmas. The socks caused much panic. Danielle followed the vet’s advice to administer peroxide to make Molly vomit and to add Vaseline to soft food to push the socks through. Nada. The socks have never reappeared. But really, it’s Molly’s irresistible big brown eyes that are the problem. She knows the where the rawhide treats live and she stands, staring at the cupboard looking so woebegone, her family folds. “Why do they make dogs so damn cute?!?” Danielle asks. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • Molly and her owner Danielle Johnson are looking forward to walking outside once it’s spring again. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Molly and her owner Danielle Johnson are looking forward to walking outside once it’s spring again. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • Ruffy, is a border collie cross, 7½ years old, a rescue Arlene Smith adopted three years ago. He was so quiet at first, but Ruffy owns the house now and he is a very happy dog, Arlene says. After surgery a year ago, he would not eat. Desperate, the family started to give him human food. He ballooned from 40 lbs. to 55 lbs. And while Arlene likes to take him for good long walks, she and Ruffy both think it is too cold to spend much time outside right now. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Ruffy, is a border collie cross, 7½ years old, a rescue Arlene Smith adopted three years ago. He was so quiet at first, but Ruffy owns the house now and he is a very happy dog, Arlene says. After surgery a year ago, he would not eat. Desperate, the family started to give him human food. He ballooned from 40 lbs. to 55 lbs. And while Arlene likes to take him for good long walks, she and Ruffy both think it is too cold to spend much time outside right now. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Mickey is a mini dachshund who weighs 16 lbs. He is 11-years-old and a devoted couch potato. Owner Brenda Winch said after a guilt trip to the vet last spring, the family is trying to get Mickey to lose a few pounds. But exercise is difficult as he doesn’t like to play with other dogs and walking him is tough to do because his nose is always to the ground. Snow and cold aren’t helping as his hairless belly is very close to the ground and dressing him for the weather is problematic. “We would usually get as far as the end of the driveway before he would turn and run back home -- probably more embarrassed than cold,” Brenda said. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Mickey is a mini dachshund who weighs 16 lbs. He is 11-years-old and a devoted couch potato. Owner Brenda Winch said after a guilt trip to the vet last spring, the family is trying to get Mickey to lose a few pounds. But exercise is difficult as he doesn’t like to play with other dogs and walking him is tough to do because his nose is always to the ground. Snow and cold aren’t helping as his hairless belly is very close to the ground and dressing him for the weather is problematic. “We would usually get as far as the end of the driveway before he would turn and run back home -- probably more embarrassed than cold,” Brenda said. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Mickey, a mini dachshund who weighs 16 lbs. and is trying to lose a few, is a devoted couch potato, owner Brenda Winch says. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Mickey, a mini dachshund who weighs 16 lbs. and is trying to lose a few, is a devoted couch potato, owner Brenda Winch says. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project

  • Meet Knuckles. She is an 11-year-old kitty, as sweet and loving as any cat you’ve ever met, but with a bit of a weight problem. Owner Kristy Miyanishi has been fighting Knuckles’ battle of the bulge for many years. But Knuckles really likes to eat. Every day, she and sister Pearl eat one-half cup of grass-fed, all-natural, ground raw chicken with a sprinkle of “weight management” high-protein kibble. Sad to say, but the minute Pearl, a more leisurely eater, takes leave of her bowl, Knuckles jumps right in and gobbles down as much as possible before Kristy can shoo her away. It’s tough to monitor dinner hour constantly, Kristy says. Knuckles weighs about 13 lbs. but she is really quite a small cat and Kristy would be happy to get her down to 11 lbs. or so. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Meet Knuckles. She is an 11-year-old kitty, as sweet and loving as any cat you’ve ever met, but with a bit of a weight problem. Owner Kristy Miyanishi has been fighting Knuckles’ battle of the bulge for many years. But Knuckles really likes to eat. Every day, she and sister Pearl eat one-half cup of grass-fed, all-natural, ground raw chicken with a sprinkle of “weight management” high-protein kibble. Sad to say, but the minute Pearl, a more leisurely eater, takes leave of her bowl, Knuckles jumps right in and gobbles down as much as possible before Kristy can shoo her away. It’s tough to monitor dinner hour constantly, Kristy says. Knuckles weighs about 13 lbs. but she is really quite a small cat and Kristy would be happy to get her down to 11 lbs. or so. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Knuckles is a sweet and loving cat whose owner Kristy Miyanishi would like to see her lose about two pounds. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Knuckles is a sweet and loving cat whose owner Kristy Miyanishi would like to see her lose about two pounds. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Sherman the beagle was born Dec. 1, 2006. He was almost four when owner Diane Stuart adopted him, and he was not exactly svelte then, she recalls. Now he weighs about 38 lbs. and Diane would like to see that drop a bit. She has been cutting his food rations and lets him have only the smallest treat possible and one piece of duck. Sherman lives with two other dogs who are in good shape. He is also good pals with a cat called Cooper, whose photo is next in line.  Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Sherman the beagle was born Dec. 1, 2006. He was almost four when owner Diane Stuart adopted him, and he was not exactly svelte then, she recalls. Now he weighs about 38 lbs. and Diane would like to see that drop a bit. She has been cutting his food rations and lets him have only the smallest treat possible and one piece of duck. Sherman lives with two other dogs who are in good shape. He is also good pals with a cat called Cooper, whose photo is next in line. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • Cooper is about 4 ½ years old. Diane Stuart adopted him when he was 1 ½ and clearly a big-boned cat, but not a heavy one. Now he is, at 18 to 20 lbs. The challenge is monitoring Cooper as he lives with two other cats. But Diane is hopeful she can help him lose some weight. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Cooper is about 4 ½ years old. Diane Stuart adopted him when he was 1 ½ and clearly a big-boned cat, but not a heavy one. Now he is, at 18 to 20 lbs. The challenge is monitoring Cooper as he lives with two other cats. But Diane is hopeful she can help him lose some weight. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • Missy is a five-year-old golden retriever, born Aug. 2, 2008 and welcomed into Jody and James’ home on Nov. 2, 2013. Missy is a wonderful addition to the family, particularly welcomed by Lola, the other golden retriever. Missy had lost close to 10 lbs. in the six months before she was adopted, but she was still a bit “round,” Jody says. Before the bitter cold set in, Missy went for walks five times a week and was shedding pounds. She is a bit arthritic and even going to doggy day care with Lola hasn’t helped her drop the rest of the weight. Recently, Missy saw her vet and learned she weighs about 80 lbs. They set a goal of weighing about 60 lbs. Missy’s now on a special food which ought to satisfy her hunger, but Missy insists she is famished, looking and scratching under the furniture for morsels of food. The only treats she receives are bits of apple and carrots in moderation, which she thoroughly enjoys. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Missy is a five-year-old golden retriever, born Aug. 2, 2008 and welcomed into Jody and James’ home on Nov. 2, 2013. Missy is a wonderful addition to the family, particularly welcomed by Lola, the other golden retriever. Missy had lost close to 10 lbs. in the six months before she was adopted, but she was still a bit “round,” Jody says. Before the bitter cold set in, Missy went for walks five times a week and was shedding pounds. She is a bit arthritic and even going to doggy day care with Lola hasn’t helped her drop the rest of the weight. Recently, Missy saw her vet and learned she weighs about 80 lbs. They set a goal of weighing about 60 lbs. Missy’s now on a special food which ought to satisfy her hunger, but Missy insists she is famished, looking and scratching under the furniture for morsels of food. The only treats she receives are bits of apple and carrots in moderation, which she thoroughly enjoys. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • This is Señor, a Chihuahua-Pomeranian cross, owned by Norma Gaber. He is 11 years old and, unfortunately, double the weight he should be, clocking in at about 19 lbs. Norma has started Señor on a training regime. They do laps around the kitchen, living and dining rooms, in preparation of the day the weather warms up and Señor can walk around the block. At the moment, he can make three laps before needing a rest. But he gets right back at it and completes 10 laps before calling it quits. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    This is Señor, a Chihuahua-Pomeranian cross, owned by Norma Gaber. He is 11 years old and, unfortunately, double the weight he should be, clocking in at about 19 lbs. Norma has started Señor on a training regime. They do laps around the kitchen, living and dining rooms, in preparation of the day the weather warms up and Señor can walk around the block. At the moment, he can make three laps before needing a rest. But he gets right back at it and completes 10 laps before calling it quits. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • You might not know it from this photo, but Rocky really enjoys agility training. Her owner Julie hopes Rocky will be able to lose those last stubborn 10 lbs. after losing 25 in the last year. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    You might not know it from this photo, but Rocky really enjoys agility training. Her owner Julie hopes Rocky will be able to lose those last stubborn 10 lbs. after losing 25 in the last year. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • This is Rocky, “my girl,” says owner Julie. Rocky is only four years old but has always looked and acted like a much older dog. Bravo for her: she lost about 25 lbs. in the past year but is still overweight at 69.5 lbs. She did it by keeping busy. Searching for the right activity for Rocky, they’re tried fly ball, disc, Rally-o, sledding but the only sport that sparks her interest is agility. They hike and hit the dog park regularly, but she still needs to drop about 10 lbs. to be at a healthy weight. Julie has changed her diet, limited treats, yet those final, stubborn 10 refuse to be shed. Julie’s hoping it’s off by the end of winter. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    This is Rocky, “my girl,” says owner Julie. Rocky is only four years old but has always looked and acted like a much older dog. Bravo for her: she lost about 25 lbs. in the past year but is still overweight at 69.5 lbs. She did it by keeping busy. Searching for the right activity for Rocky, they’re tried fly ball, disc, Rally-o, sledding but the only sport that sparks her interest is agility. They hike and hit the dog park regularly, but she still needs to drop about 10 lbs. to be at a healthy weight. Julie has changed her diet, limited treats, yet those final, stubborn 10 refuse to be shed. Julie’s hoping it’s off by the end of winter. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • This is Murphy, in front, with her brother Tucker right behind. Five-year-old Murphy is owned by Brenda Perkins and Tucker belongs to Brenda’s daughter. They are rescue dogs. Tucker used to have a weight issue, but he’s slimmed right down and Murphy’s family is hoping she will do the same. She weighs 12.7 kg and they’d like her to drop to less than 12 kg. It's been a long tough winter without being able to get out for walks. Brenda says they've invented a few indoor games, such as “Fetch the Cookie” which involves throwing a cookie up and down the stairs of their split-level home. Sometimes they play this with lower calorie treats such as Fruitables. The brother and sister also attend a Fit N Fun Fitness class Saturday mornings. Murphy tried a diet food, but was sick after a few days of transition (Ed’s note: we know how she feels), so Brenda plans to try the one that helped Tucker. She’s hoping for an early spring so Murphy can get outside for lots of exercise. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    This is Murphy, in front, with her brother Tucker right behind. Five-year-old Murphy is owned by Brenda Perkins and Tucker belongs to Brenda’s daughter. They are rescue dogs. Tucker used to have a weight issue, but he’s slimmed right down and Murphy’s family is hoping she will do the same. She weighs 12.7 kg and they’d like her to drop to less than 12 kg. It's been a long tough winter without being able to get out for walks. Brenda says they've invented a few indoor games, such as “Fetch the Cookie” which involves throwing a cookie up and down the stairs of their split-level home. Sometimes they play this with lower calorie treats such as Fruitables. The brother and sister also attend a Fit N Fun Fitness class Saturday mornings. Murphy tried a diet food, but was sick after a few days of transition (Ed’s note: we know how she feels), so Brenda plans to try the one that helped Tucker. She’s hoping for an early spring so Murphy can get outside for lots of exercise. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • This is Mr. Pepsi, a really big boy. He is nine years old and weighs 19 lbs. He is a rescue from the Winnipeg Humane Society and the first cat ever for his owner Leah. The logic driving that decision was a cat would keep her dog Jack company while she was at work. Leah never considered herself a cat person, but Mr. Pepsi so changed her mind on that! Best cat ever, says Leah. He is so very calm and docile. Jack thinks Pepsi is a play toy, and Pepsi takes that with a grain of salt. Pepsi used to open the closet door and rip open bags of dog treats whenever he felt like a snack. The door now has a lock on it, Leah says. She loves him to bits and wants him to lose a few pounds. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Mr. Pepsi, a really big boy. He is nine years old and weighs 19 lbs. He is a rescue from the Winnipeg Humane Society and the first cat ever for his owner Leah. The logic driving that decision was a cat would keep her dog Jack company while she was at work. Leah never considered herself a cat person, but Mr. Pepsi so changed her mind on that! Best cat ever, says Leah. He is so very calm and docile. Jack thinks Pepsi is a play toy, and Pepsi takes that with a grain of salt. Pepsi used to open the closet door and rip open bags of dog treats whenever he felt like a snack. The door now has a lock on it, Leah says. She loves him to bits and wants him to lose a few pounds. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • My name is Pookie. I live in a multi-cat family. I am the third of my owner Susan Meagher’s four cats, but I alone have a weight problem. I am 12-years-old and my people think I weigh about 14 lbs. They are going to check. I want to learn to live without being the feline vacuum that I am. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    My name is Pookie. I live in a multi-cat family. I am the third of my owner Susan Meagher’s four cats, but I alone have a weight problem. I am 12-years-old and my people think I weigh about 14 lbs. They are going to check. I want to learn to live without being the feline vacuum that I am. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Jamie and Murphy are seven-year-old brothers Maria Harden rescued through the Winnipeg Humane Society. Murphy is tabby and white and one of the best behaved cats. Although they both gain weight in winter when they don’t go outside, Murphy tends to keep his boyish figure. Orange and white Jamie is another story. Despite his family’s best efforts, Jamie has a lot of bad eating habits. He wolfs down his food, then noses Murphy out of the way to finish off his plate and his placid brother lets him. Jamie pesters his humans for their food even if he has no idea what it is, practically crawls into incoming grocery bags to see what kind of cat food was purchased and breaks into the treat cupboard when the family is out. He also will gorge until he vomits – generally where the mess and subsequent stain will be most noticeable. But his family loves him all the same, says Maria. They are all looking forward to summer when both cats enjoy being out in the yard and their weight returns to normal. A favourite summer pastime is bringing rodents and birds home, much to Maria’s disgust. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Jamie and Murphy are seven-year-old brothers Maria Harden rescued through the Winnipeg Humane Society. Murphy is tabby and white and one of the best behaved cats. Although they both gain weight in winter when they don’t go outside, Murphy tends to keep his boyish figure. Orange and white Jamie is another story. Despite his family’s best efforts, Jamie has a lot of bad eating habits. He wolfs down his food, then noses Murphy out of the way to finish off his plate and his placid brother lets him. Jamie pesters his humans for their food even if he has no idea what it is, practically crawls into incoming grocery bags to see what kind of cat food was purchased and breaks into the treat cupboard when the family is out. He also will gorge until he vomits – generally where the mess and subsequent stain will be most noticeable. But his family loves him all the same, says Maria. They are all looking forward to summer when both cats enjoy being out in the yard and their weight returns to normal. A favourite summer pastime is bringing rodents and birds home, much to Maria’s disgust. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Jamie has bad eating habits, such as stealing his brother Murphy's dinner and breaking into the treat cupboard. But owner Maria Harden says when the winter's over, Jamie and Murphy will go outside and that helps them lose weight. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Jamie has bad eating habits, such as stealing his brother Murphy's dinner and breaking into the treat cupboard. But owner Maria Harden says when the winter's over, Jamie and Murphy will go outside and that helps them lose weight. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project

  • Murphy, James' brother, is a very well-behaved cat, says his owner Maria Harden. The feline brothers gain weight over the winter, but come summer when they go outside, it will all come off. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Murphy, James' brother, is a very well-behaved cat, says his owner Maria Harden. The feline brothers gain weight over the winter, but come summer when they go outside, it will all come off. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project

  • Say hello to Molly, rescued nine years ago by Brenda and Craig Werntz through Winnipeg Pet Rescue. Molly, about 10 months old at the time, had been picked up as a stray and was very skinny. Her new family was told she’s a schnoodle, part schnauzer, part poodle. Today, she is very plump, Brenda says, and spoiled. Molly weighs about 28 pounds and should lose five. Her family takes her for walks, but none of them likes the bitter cold weather so that’s put a damper on walking lately. Brenda made her a couple of little coats and booties which help. The main reason for Molly’s weight troubles is a little overindulgence in treats. With her big brown eyes and the adorable way she lifts up a paw to say she wants a treat, it’s not easy saying no to her. But Brenda and Craig are working in tandem now on the treats. Molly used to play them off one another, a treat from Brenda, then a treat from Craig. Now the Werntz let each other know when they’ve given their girl a treat. They know it will be a challenge for Molly to lose the weight, but they believe they are up to the task. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Say hello to Molly, rescued nine years ago by Brenda and Craig Werntz through Winnipeg Pet Rescue. Molly, about 10 months old at the time, had been picked up as a stray and was very skinny. Her new family was told she’s a schnoodle, part schnauzer, part poodle. Today, she is very plump, Brenda says, and spoiled. Molly weighs about 28 pounds and should lose five. Her family takes her for walks, but none of them likes the bitter cold weather so that’s put a damper on walking lately. Brenda made her a couple of little coats and booties which help. The main reason for Molly’s weight troubles is a little overindulgence in treats. With her big brown eyes and the adorable way she lifts up a paw to say she wants a treat, it’s not easy saying no to her. But Brenda and Craig are working in tandem now on the treats. Molly used to play them off one another, a treat from Brenda, then a treat from Craig. Now the Werntz let each other know when they’ve given their girl a treat. They know it will be a challenge for Molly to lose the weight, but they believe they are up to the task. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • This is Hobbes, a 10-year-old male tabby, striking his

    Submitted photo

    This is Hobbes, a 10-year-old male tabby, striking his "sexy cat" pose. Hobbes’ owners, Leigh Patterson and Bryan Peeler, say he is at his fighting weight of about 25 lbs. But he has dropped as low as 16 lbs. thanks to a strict diet and monthly weigh-ins with Hobbes’ vet. It’s difficult now, Leigh writes, to get this older cat off the couch and exercising to lose the extra pounds he's gained over the last few years. At the moment, Hobbes is healthy and happy, but all his littermates developed diabetes, and his family doesn’t want him to face the same fate. You’ve got to admit, his stripes are slimming though, eh? Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Here’s Truffles showing off her favourite activity, one she’s very, very good at: lounging. She is about six years old and is spayed. Owner Lori Whitelam says Truffles weighs 12 lbs. and is hopeful she can lose three of those. Lori has cut back on Truffles’ food, something she reminds her loving owner of every time Lori walks past the food dish. They used to play together quite a bit, and Lori vows to make more time for play, which will be good exercise for both of them. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Here’s Truffles showing off her favourite activity, one she’s very, very good at: lounging. She is about six years old and is spayed. Owner Lori Whitelam says Truffles weighs 12 lbs. and is hopeful she can lose three of those. Lori has cut back on Truffles’ food, something she reminds her loving owner of every time Lori walks past the food dish. They used to play together quite a bit, and Lori vows to make more time for play, which will be good exercise for both of them. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is Bosely, a 2 1/2 year old American bulldog mix. He weighs 90 lbs. and owner Nathin says his goal weight is 80 lbs. Bosely goes to the dog park regularly, but also walks on a treadmill, as you can see. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

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    This is Bosely, a 2 1/2 year old American bulldog mix. He weighs 90 lbs. and owner Nathin says his goal weight is 80 lbs. Bosely goes to the dog park regularly, but also walks on a treadmill, as you can see. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is Lynda Miller’s precious girl, Poppy-Rose. The Millers adopted Poppy from Winnipeg Animal Services in 2011. She was only five months old and has a lot of Jack Russell in her so she had her new family running from the start. But now they’ve all settled in, too nicely, as Lynda says, to their “lazy life.” Poppy and her human parents all hope to get mobile this year and be fitter. Poppy weighs about 38 lbs, but should weigh 32 to 33. Lynda says, don’t even think of asking about her weight. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Lynda Miller’s precious girl, Poppy-Rose. The Millers adopted Poppy from Winnipeg Animal Services in 2011. She was only five months old and has a lot of Jack Russell in her so she had her new family running from the start. But now they’ve all settled in, too nicely, as Lynda says, to their “lazy life.” Poppy and her human parents all hope to get mobile this year and be fitter. Poppy weighs about 38 lbs, but should weigh 32 to 33. Lynda says, don’t even think of asking about her weight. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Charlie is a handsome boy, an eight-year-old lab cross his forever family rescued from the Winnipeg Humane Society in July 2010. Owner Sandra Morris says they have been struggling with Charlie’s weight for some time. He has lost some weight in the past, but now in his senior years and having hip problems, his weight is a big concern. Charlie’s family has also been changing his food a bit to deal with his allergies. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Charlie is a handsome boy, an eight-year-old lab cross his forever family rescued from the Winnipeg Humane Society in July 2010. Owner Sandra Morris says they have been struggling with Charlie’s weight for some time. He has lost some weight in the past, but now in his senior years and having hip problems, his weight is a big concern. Charlie’s family has also been changing his food a bit to deal with his allergies. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • These two darlings are Midnight and Moonie, a brother/ sister act born May 17, 2006. Marlene Dewyn read about the fat cats in our Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project and she is offering up her two to take part. Midnight is the big guy, weighing in at 21 lbs.; Moonie weighs 11 lbs. Marlene says she really needs tips to help them lose weight.

    Submitted photo

    These two darlings are Midnight and Moonie, a brother/ sister act born May 17, 2006. Marlene Dewyn read about the fat cats in our Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project and she is offering up her two to take part. Midnight is the big guy, weighing in at 21 lbs.; Moonie weighs 11 lbs. Marlene says she really needs tips to help them lose weight.

  • Teddy is a Bichon Frisé who will turn 10 in July. Owners Penny and Ron Maletic say he is too fat. But Teddy’s has been struggling with other even more serious health problems for a long time. He developed serious allergies when he was about a year old. His vet struggled to find treatment for Teddy, finally finding success with an expensive drug he has taken daily for the last seven years. Last fall, Teddy dislocated his hip and needed surgery, then his kidney inefficiency showed up and shortly after, he partially dislocated his knee. Poor little Teddy. He has lost a pound and you can feel his ribs when you scratch his tummy now, Ron and Penny report, but he would benefit from losing another pound or so. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Teddy is a Bichon Frisé who will turn 10 in July. Owners Penny and Ron Maletic say he is too fat. But Teddy’s has been struggling with other even more serious health problems for a long time. He developed serious allergies when he was about a year old. His vet struggled to find treatment for Teddy, finally finding success with an expensive drug he has taken daily for the last seven years. Last fall, Teddy dislocated his hip and needed surgery, then his kidney inefficiency showed up and shortly after, he partially dislocated his knee. Poor little Teddy. He has lost a pound and you can feel his ribs when you scratch his tummy now, Ron and Penny report, but he would benefit from losing another pound or so. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Cathy Meissner says her dog Sandy is a bit of a taskmaster and won’t let her cats play with each other. The end result is cat Misty could stand to lose a few pounds and Sandy could, too. They are indoor cats so Cathy is up against it trying to help them lose weight. The cats eat one-half a can of wet food a day and have dry food in the evening for an hour. It sounds like they are on the right track. See Misty in the next photo. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Cathy Meissner says her dog Sandy is a bit of a taskmaster and won’t let her cats play with each other. The end result is cat Misty could stand to lose a few pounds and Sandy could, too. They are indoor cats so Cathy is up against it trying to help them lose weight. The cats eat one-half a can of wet food a day and have dry food in the evening for an hour. It sounds like they are on the right track. See Misty in the next photo. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • Cathy Meissner says her dog Sandy is a bit of a taskmaster and won’t let her cats play with each other. The end result is cat Misty could stand to lose a few pounds and Sandy could, too. They are indoor cats so Cathy is up against it trying to help them lose weight. The cats eat one-half a can of wet food a day and have dry food in the evening for an hour. It sounds like they are on the right track. See Sandy in the previous photo. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Cathy Meissner says her dog Sandy is a bit of a taskmaster and won’t let her cats play with each other. The end result is cat Misty could stand to lose a few pounds and Sandy could, too. They are indoor cats so Cathy is up against it trying to help them lose weight. The cats eat one-half a can of wet food a day and have dry food in the evening for an hour. It sounds like they are on the right track. See Sandy in the previous photo. Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project

  • This is six-year-old Harley, a very nice boxer who just wants to play all the time, says his owner Mel Pilgrim. Harley blew out both rear knees the fall of 2012. He had surgery on one knee that November and on the other in January 2013. Because of this, he did not go for one of his beloved walks from September 2012 to April 2013. His weight climbed to a high of 108 lbs. But Harley got a clean bill of health last August, his full walks resumed and his weight is now down to 101.5 lbs., Mel proudly reports. Harley’s vet is suggesting he should weigh about 95 lbs. so Harley and Mel are joining Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    This is six-year-old Harley, a very nice boxer who just wants to play all the time, says his owner Mel Pilgrim. Harley blew out both rear knees the fall of 2012. He had surgery on one knee that November and on the other in January 2013. Because of this, he did not go for one of his beloved walks from September 2012 to April 2013. His weight climbed to a high of 108 lbs. But Harley got a clean bill of health last August, his full walks resumed and his weight is now down to 101.5 lbs., Mel proudly reports. Harley’s vet is suggesting he should weigh about 95 lbs. so Harley and Mel are joining Pet Valu’s Fit Pet Project.

  • Eight-year-old Shadow weighs 16.6 lbs, but she – and her owner Melissa Jabs – deserve hearty pats on the back as Shadow has lost 1.7 lbs since January. Bravo! Melissa switched Shadow’s food to Science Hills Metabolic which keeps her feeling full longer. Shadow has become more active since she started weight loss program and loves playing with her Pet Valu barnyard animals. Her goal weight is 9.5 lbs which Melissa expects her to reach by Nov. 30. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project.

    Submitted photo

    Eight-year-old Shadow weighs 16.6 lbs, but she – and her owner Melissa Jabs – deserve hearty pats on the back as Shadow has lost 1.7 lbs since January. Bravo! Melissa switched Shadow’s food to Science Hills Metabolic which keeps her feeling full longer. Shadow has become more active since she started weight loss program and loves playing with her Pet Valu barnyard animals. Her goal weight is 9.5 lbs which Melissa expects her to reach by Nov. 30. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project.

  • Beefy Blackie Chan had a rough start in life. His owner, Pam Stevenson, rescued him from some cruel kids on her street who had him in a bag and were kicking it. It’s been six years now since she took the bloodied and bruised kitten home. Pam thinks that rough start might be why his family folds when Beefy Blackie Chan cries for more food and treats. This kitty weighs 20 lbs. and eats, Pam figures, seven times a day, not counting treats. But Pam knows that must stop as they want him to live a long and healthy life. BBC sleeps a lot, can’t clean himself and lays down to eat. She’d like to see him lose about 10 lbs. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Beefy Blackie Chan had a rough start in life. His owner, Pam Stevenson, rescued him from some cruel kids on her street who had him in a bag and were kicking it. It’s been six years now since she took the bloodied and bruised kitten home. Pam thinks that rough start might be why his family folds when Beefy Blackie Chan cries for more food and treats. This kitty weighs 20 lbs. and eats, Pam figures, seven times a day, not counting treats. But Pam knows that must stop as they want him to live a long and healthy life. BBC sleeps a lot, can’t clean himself and lays down to eat. She’d like to see him lose about 10 lbs. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Misty is a canine version of the Canadian mosaic. She is a mixture of Chow Chow, Akita, Shetland Sheepdog and Australian Shepherd. This rescue dog from the Winnipeg Humane Society is at least 12 years old. Owner Susan Castagna says Misty is a very gentle dog, wonderful with everyone.  Two years ago Misty had trouble walking. The vest determined she had torn the ligament in one of her back legs; days later she tore the other one. That meant surgery in June, then surgery again on the other leg in September. Because Misty had trouble walking, she could not get much exercise and naturally, she gained weight. That, in turn, put more stress on her legs. She weighed 80 lbs. at her last weigh-in. She has lost three pounds and needs to lose about 10 more. Susan says they’d love to walk her further than the neighbour’s house and take her to the dog park where Misty enjoys watching the other dogs. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Misty is a canine version of the Canadian mosaic. She is a mixture of Chow Chow, Akita, Shetland Sheepdog and Australian Shepherd. This rescue dog from the Winnipeg Humane Society is at least 12 years old. Owner Susan Castagna says Misty is a very gentle dog, wonderful with everyone. Two years ago Misty had trouble walking. The vest determined she had torn the ligament in one of her back legs; days later she tore the other one. That meant surgery in June, then surgery again on the other leg in September. Because Misty had trouble walking, she could not get much exercise and naturally, she gained weight. That, in turn, put more stress on her legs. She weighed 80 lbs. at her last weigh-in. She has lost three pounds and needs to lose about 10 more. Susan says they’d love to walk her further than the neighbour’s house and take her to the dog park where Misty enjoys watching the other dogs. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • This is Fred, a seven-year-old, short-haired, grey cat who loves to play hide and seek with fake mice, chase string and play with practically anything. Despite all that action, Fred’s packed on a couple of pounds. Owner Claudette Saquet would like to see his weight at about 10 lbs. Fred loves dry food, especially the kind that is not good for him, Claudette says. She calls it is his junk food. Winter was tough on Fred as it was so cold, but in really hot weather, he can be lethargic when he goes outside. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Fred, a seven-year-old, short-haired, grey cat who loves to play hide and seek with fake mice, chase string and play with practically anything. Despite all that action, Fred’s packed on a couple of pounds. Owner Claudette Saquet would like to see his weight at about 10 lbs. Fred loves dry food, especially the kind that is not good for him, Claudette says. She calls it is his junk food. Winter was tough on Fred as it was so cold, but in really hot weather, he can be lethargic when he goes outside. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Meet Muggins, the cat, and his dog-sister, Tanner, a yellow lab-type dog. Tanner is 6 ½ years old and doesn’t have much of a weight problem, just five pounds she puts on every winter and loses every summer. (Who can’t identify with that?) When she was younger, Tanner packed on a few pounds, but owner Trudy Tuhkanen decided to address that before Tanner started slowing down with age. Good food and runs in the country all summer has kept her weight in check for the last three years.
Muggins is another story. He was born on a farm where he spent his kittenhood sleeping in the dog food bag, snacking to his heart’s content. Two years ago, he hit 24 lbs. The vet said Muggins’ family could help him lose the weight or they could “love” him to death. Switched to an all wet food diet, Muggins lost a lot of weight, but he went back on the dry food and slowly gained it back, weighing in at 18 lbs. in March. He’s back on the special wet food now and his weight has dropped to 15 lbs. Trudy is confident Muggins will reach his goal weight, and his family hopes he will live a long, love-filled life. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Meet Muggins, the cat, and his dog-sister, Tanner, a yellow lab-type dog. Tanner is 6 ½ years old and doesn’t have much of a weight problem, just five pounds she puts on every winter and loses every summer. (Who can’t identify with that?) When she was younger, Tanner packed on a few pounds, but owner Trudy Tuhkanen decided to address that before Tanner started slowing down with age. Good food and runs in the country all summer has kept her weight in check for the last three years. Muggins is another story. He was born on a farm where he spent his kittenhood sleeping in the dog food bag, snacking to his heart’s content. Two years ago, he hit 24 lbs. The vet said Muggins’ family could help him lose the weight or they could “love” him to death. Switched to an all wet food diet, Muggins lost a lot of weight, but he went back on the dry food and slowly gained it back, weighing in at 18 lbs. in March. He’s back on the special wet food now and his weight has dropped to 15 lbs. Trudy is confident Muggins will reach his goal weight, and his family hopes he will live a long, love-filled life. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • This is two-year-old Lisa. She used to live in Winnipeg with her brother from a different litter, Kooper, 3, (next photo). After complaints about their wonderful baying, owner Jennifer Maczuga said, their family moved to Grunthal to give them more room to run as they were gaining quite a bit of weight. Lisa’s target weight is 65 lbs. Kooper’s is 85 lbs. In their spare time, the two like to spy on the neighbours while hiding on the couch. They also like to lounge in front of the living room window to catch some rays. Kooper enjoys taking a beating from the baby (because he gets treats for putting up with him) and Lisa likes to have lunch with the baby (because once the baby’s done eating, his food is dropped on the floor). Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is two-year-old Lisa. She used to live in Winnipeg with her brother from a different litter, Kooper, 3, (next photo). After complaints about their wonderful baying, owner Jennifer Maczuga said, their family moved to Grunthal to give them more room to run as they were gaining quite a bit of weight. Lisa’s target weight is 65 lbs. Kooper’s is 85 lbs. In their spare time, the two like to spy on the neighbours while hiding on the couch. They also like to lounge in front of the living room window to catch some rays. Kooper enjoys taking a beating from the baby (because he gets treats for putting up with him) and Lisa likes to have lunch with the baby (because once the baby’s done eating, his food is dropped on the floor). Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Zeboo is best described as portly, says owner Reid Puloski. She is a 16-year-old, domestic, short-hair. Reid isn’t sure what her target weight is, but he’s pretty sure it is less than her current 16.6 lbs. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Zeboo is best described as portly, says owner Reid Puloski. She is a 16-year-old, domestic, short-hair. Reid isn’t sure what her target weight is, but he’s pretty sure it is less than her current 16.6 lbs. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • This is three-year-old Kooper. He used to live in Winnipeg with his sister from a different litter, Lisa, 2, (last photo). After complaints about their wonderful baying, owner Jennifer Maczuga said, their family moved to Grunthal to give them more room to run as they were gaining quite a bit of weight. Kooper’s target weight is 85 lbs. Lisa’s is 65 lbs. In their spare time, the two like to spy on the neighbours while hiding on the couch. They also like to lounge in front of the living room window to catch some rays. Kooper enjoys taking a beating from the baby (because he gets treats for putting up with him) and Lisa likes to have lunch with the baby (because once the baby’s done eating, his food is dropped on the floor). Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is three-year-old Kooper. He used to live in Winnipeg with his sister from a different litter, Lisa, 2, (last photo). After complaints about their wonderful baying, owner Jennifer Maczuga said, their family moved to Grunthal to give them more room to run as they were gaining quite a bit of weight. Kooper’s target weight is 85 lbs. Lisa’s is 65 lbs. In their spare time, the two like to spy on the neighbours while hiding on the couch. They also like to lounge in front of the living room window to catch some rays. Kooper enjoys taking a beating from the baby (because he gets treats for putting up with him) and Lisa likes to have lunch with the baby (because once the baby’s done eating, his food is dropped on the floor). Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Garry is Aimee Fortier’s black kitty who is very overweight. He is about six years old and weighs about 28 lbs. Monitoring his eating is difficult because he eats Aimee’s other pets’ food. That used to be his co-cat who has died, and now it’s Trevor’s dog food. That’s so unfair as Trevor is a grazer and likes to come back to eat a bit more later on. Garry’s family discussed his weight with his vet and tried a metabolic diet which seemed very expensive given Garry was always supplementing his own food with Trevor’s. Garry’s goal weight is 12 lbs. which, Aimee points out, is just under 50 per cent of his current body weight. Pet Valu Fit Pets Project.

    Submitted photo

    Garry is Aimee Fortier’s black kitty who is very overweight. He is about six years old and weighs about 28 lbs. Monitoring his eating is difficult because he eats Aimee’s other pets’ food. That used to be his co-cat who has died, and now it’s Trevor’s dog food. That’s so unfair as Trevor is a grazer and likes to come back to eat a bit more later on. Garry’s family discussed his weight with his vet and tried a metabolic diet which seemed very expensive given Garry was always supplementing his own food with Trevor’s. Garry’s goal weight is 12 lbs. which, Aimee points out, is just under 50 per cent of his current body weight. Pet Valu Fit Pets Project.

  • This is Teeka who is 11 years old and weighs 17 lbs. His owners, Kristin and Sean Livingstone, would love to get his weight down to about 10 lbs. but Teeka is a bit of a glutton. They try so hard, but Teeka, the little rascal, whines all night if his food dish is only half full. He takes a glass-half-empty view of the world which makes life very difficult for the Livingstones at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday. They've tried cutting back on the amount of hard and soft food he receives, but so far no luck. He just packs on more weight. Poor Teeka has actual butt cheeks when he walks, Kristin reports. She is sure the dog makes fun of him as do their friends. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Teeka who is 11 years old and weighs 17 lbs. His owners, Kristin and Sean Livingstone, would love to get his weight down to about 10 lbs. but Teeka is a bit of a glutton. They try so hard, but Teeka, the little rascal, whines all night if his food dish is only half full. He takes a glass-half-empty view of the world which makes life very difficult for the Livingstones at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday. They've tried cutting back on the amount of hard and soft food he receives, but so far no luck. He just packs on more weight. Poor Teeka has actual butt cheeks when he walks, Kristin reports. She is sure the dog makes fun of him as do their friends. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • This is Happy, a cat who really earns her name. She is five years old and weighs about 16 lbs. Owner Kyleen Normandeau figures Happy should weigh about 12 lbs. Her heft is weighing her down; it’s restricting her movement – she can barely jump on the bed anymore, Kyleen says. She would love her Happy cat to be happier, healthier and able to play like the young cat she is. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Happy, a cat who really earns her name. She is five years old and weighs about 16 lbs. Owner Kyleen Normandeau figures Happy should weigh about 12 lbs. Her heft is weighing her down; it’s restricting her movement – she can barely jump on the bed anymore, Kyleen says. She would love her Happy cat to be happier, healthier and able to play like the young cat she is. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Eddie, the fat cat, is now down to 21 lbs. from 23 lbs. after just over a month on a weight-loss diet at Tuxedo Animal Hospital. Eddie is a sweetheart, seeking a permanent home. To adopt the tubby tabby, contact Quagga Stray Cat Rescue.

    Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

    Eddie, the fat cat, is now down to 21 lbs. from 23 lbs. after just over a month on a weight-loss diet at Tuxedo Animal Hospital. Eddie is a sweetheart, seeking a permanent home. To adopt the tubby tabby, contact Quagga Stray Cat Rescue.

  • Handsome lad Tommy tips the scales at 20 lbs. Owner Cheri Lelond has cut the kibble and feeds him an all soft-food diet. But Tommy’s a carb junkie and he absolutely is not happy about his new diet. Cheri does give him the odd two-calorie cat treat largely because Tommy is very good at guilt trips. Cheri’s big concern is that he could develop diabetes. She has taken Tommy’s photo from his good side – meaning not his tummy – but she assures, he is one heavy dude. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Handsome lad Tommy tips the scales at 20 lbs. Owner Cheri Lelond has cut the kibble and feeds him an all soft-food diet. But Tommy’s a carb junkie and he absolutely is not happy about his new diet. Cheri does give him the odd two-calorie cat treat largely because Tommy is very good at guilt trips. Cheri’s big concern is that he could develop diabetes. She has taken Tommy’s photo from his good side – meaning not his tummy – but she assures, he is one heavy dude. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Pie Face has sent in his own story. “ I am 17 years old, weigh 25 lbs. and am quite clever. My owner, Charlotte Treddenick, cut back my food, but I figured out how to steal the dog’s food when he’s not looking. His name is Mike, and fortunately he is not the quickest puppy on the scene. In this photo, I am enjoying the day, sitting around, watching the world go by. My target weight is 17 lbs. Like all men, I want to be considered handsome. Do not get me wrong. I have lots of girlfriends, but just imagine how many more I will have when Charlotte uses all the tips and tricks in the Pet Valu Fit Pet project to help me get thin.”

    Submitted photo

    Pie Face has sent in his own story. “ I am 17 years old, weigh 25 lbs. and am quite clever. My owner, Charlotte Treddenick, cut back my food, but I figured out how to steal the dog’s food when he’s not looking. His name is Mike, and fortunately he is not the quickest puppy on the scene. In this photo, I am enjoying the day, sitting around, watching the world go by. My target weight is 17 lbs. Like all men, I want to be considered handsome. Do not get me wrong. I have lots of girlfriends, but just imagine how many more I will have when Charlotte uses all the tips and tricks in the Pet Valu Fit Pet project to help me get thin.”

  • The pretty grey stray appeared at the Mexican rental house of her owners’, Dennis and Doreen Gowler, in November 2012, hungry and looking for food. At first, she cringed and ran away when we tried to get near her. She had been physically abused and it took a lot of time to build trust. But she wormed her way into their hearts, and they named her Tabi and helped her conquered her fear. The local vet guessed she was about a year old which makes her about two now. Eventually she was living in their Mexican house, sleeping on the bed at night, and she flew to Winnipeg with them in the spring of 2013. Tabi’s photo posted here was taken through the Mexican house’s kitchen window. The Gowlers and their guests overfed Tabi as she was at that window so often, meowing for food. None of them could resist her. Unfortunately, they didn’t think of the long term effects, and Tabi’s weight eventually hit 14 lbs. But they have restricted her food, and she has lost one pound. She is a very loving and affectionate cat, but it is hard to get her to lose weight as she isn’t as playful as most young cats. They’ve bought her cat toys, but she doesn’t play with them very much. Pet Valu Fit Pets.

    Submitted photo

    The pretty grey stray appeared at the Mexican rental house of her owners’, Dennis and Doreen Gowler, in November 2012, hungry and looking for food. At first, she cringed and ran away when we tried to get near her. She had been physically abused and it took a lot of time to build trust. But she wormed her way into their hearts, and they named her Tabi and helped her conquered her fear. The local vet guessed she was about a year old which makes her about two now. Eventually she was living in their Mexican house, sleeping on the bed at night, and she flew to Winnipeg with them in the spring of 2013. Tabi’s photo posted here was taken through the Mexican house’s kitchen window. The Gowlers and their guests overfed Tabi as she was at that window so often, meowing for food. None of them could resist her. Unfortunately, they didn’t think of the long term effects, and Tabi’s weight eventually hit 14 lbs. But they have restricted her food, and she has lost one pound. She is a very loving and affectionate cat, but it is hard to get her to lose weight as she isn’t as playful as most young cats. They’ve bought her cat toys, but she doesn’t play with them very much. Pet Valu Fit Pets.

  • Kind-hearted Janice Croft has offered to help her brother scale down his dogs’ weight. They are five-year-old Dede, pictured here, and eight-year-old Kiko, in the next photo. The dogs are hand-me-downs Janice’s brother took on from people who didn’t have time for them. She jokes they are not just sausage dogs any more, they are watermelons. But Janice is taking the risk to the dogs’ health very seriously and would like to see them reach a healthy weight so they can live many more happy, healthy years. Janice guestimates they currently weigh about 25 lbs. and ought to weigh 10 to 12 lbs. They eat a dry dog food and lots of treats as well as leftovers such as pizza and whatever else happens to be on the menu. Dede has a hard time walking, has a limp in a hind leg and has difficulty jumping up on anything. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Kind-hearted Janice Croft has offered to help her brother scale down his dogs’ weight. They are five-year-old Dede, pictured here, and eight-year-old Kiko, in the next photo. The dogs are hand-me-downs Janice’s brother took on from people who didn’t have time for them. She jokes they are not just sausage dogs any more, they are watermelons. But Janice is taking the risk to the dogs’ health very seriously and would like to see them reach a healthy weight so they can live many more happy, healthy years. Janice guestimates they currently weigh about 25 lbs. and ought to weigh 10 to 12 lbs. They eat a dry dog food and lots of treats as well as leftovers such as pizza and whatever else happens to be on the menu. Dede has a hard time walking, has a limp in a hind leg and has difficulty jumping up on anything. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Kind-hearted Janice Croft has offered to help her brother scale down his dogs’ weight. They are eight-year-old Kiko, pictured here, and five-year-old Dede, in the last photo. The dogs are hand-me-downs Janice’s brother took on from people who didn’t have time for them. She jokes they are not just sausage dogs any more, they are watermelons. But Janice is taking the risk to the dogs’ health very seriously and would like to see them reach a healthy weight so they can live many more happy, healthy years. Janice guestimates they currently weigh about 25 lbs. and ought to weigh 10 to 12 lbs. They eat a dry dog food and lots of treats as well as leftovers such as pizza and whatever else happens to be on the menu. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Kind-hearted Janice Croft has offered to help her brother scale down his dogs’ weight. They are eight-year-old Kiko, pictured here, and five-year-old Dede, in the last photo. The dogs are hand-me-downs Janice’s brother took on from people who didn’t have time for them. She jokes they are not just sausage dogs any more, they are watermelons. But Janice is taking the risk to the dogs’ health very seriously and would like to see them reach a healthy weight so they can live many more happy, healthy years. Janice guestimates they currently weigh about 25 lbs. and ought to weigh 10 to 12 lbs. They eat a dry dog food and lots of treats as well as leftovers such as pizza and whatever else happens to be on the menu. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Pochahantas is a six-year-old, female, red patch, tabby, calico. Owner Alyssa Slike says her nicknames include Polky and Polk-a-dot. Pochahantas currently weighs about 15.5 lbs. and so far has lost one pound in her effort to hit her target weight of 13 lbs. Mother Nature can be cruel. Pochahantas has a biological twin who is, of course, skinny. Pochahantas loves to play but if one of her siblings joins in, she loses interest and playfulness. Her eyes light up when she hears the patter of food in her bowl, and she runs to dig in. Alyssa says they will love their kitty, Pochahantas, big or small, but they are so happy she is on her way to a healthier lifestyle. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Pochahantas is a six-year-old, female, red patch, tabby, calico. Owner Alyssa Slike says her nicknames include Polky and Polk-a-dot. Pochahantas currently weighs about 15.5 lbs. and so far has lost one pound in her effort to hit her target weight of 13 lbs. Mother Nature can be cruel. Pochahantas has a biological twin who is, of course, skinny. Pochahantas loves to play but if one of her siblings joins in, she loses interest and playfulness. Her eyes light up when she hears the patter of food in her bowl, and she runs to dig in. Alyssa says they will love their kitty, Pochahantas, big or small, but they are so happy she is on her way to a healthier lifestyle. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Here is Sam, an eight-year-old, 15-lb., pure-bred, blue Himalayan. He and his brother Murphy, a handsome orange tabby in the next photo, recently started a new diet regime, thanks to their loving owner Jennie Morris. She read about the dieting success of Eddie, the fat cat, and decided to join the Pet Valu Fit Pet Project. Sam and Murphy’s family recently started limiting the boys’ food, feeding them small amounts four times a day.

    Submitted photo

    Here is Sam, an eight-year-old, 15-lb., pure-bred, blue Himalayan. He and his brother Murphy, a handsome orange tabby in the next photo, recently started a new diet regime, thanks to their loving owner Jennie Morris. She read about the dieting success of Eddie, the fat cat, and decided to join the Pet Valu Fit Pet Project. Sam and Murphy’s family recently started limiting the boys’ food, feeding them small amounts four times a day.

  • Here is Murphy, a five-year-old, 26.8-lb., orange tabby. He and his brother Sam, a lovely blue Himalayan in the last photo, recently started a new diet regime, thanks to their loving owner Jennie Morris. She read about the dieting success of Eddie, the fat cat, and decided to join the Pet Valu Fit Pet Project. Sam and Murphy’s family recently started limiting the boys’ food, feeding them small amounts four times a day. They are very worried about Murphy as he is huge, Jennie says. He is happy, but they worry about this health. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Here is Murphy, a five-year-old, 26.8-lb., orange tabby. He and his brother Sam, a lovely blue Himalayan in the last photo, recently started a new diet regime, thanks to their loving owner Jennie Morris. She read about the dieting success of Eddie, the fat cat, and decided to join the Pet Valu Fit Pet Project. Sam and Murphy’s family recently started limiting the boys’ food, feeding them small amounts four times a day. They are very worried about Murphy as he is huge, Jennie says. He is happy, but they worry about this health. Pet Valu's Fit Pet Project

  • Taffca brings us a cautionary tale about obesity in cats. Her owners, Carole and Steven Moroz of Komarno, realized things needed to change when Taffca’s weight was pushing 20 lbs. and she had a whole slew of health problems. At 10 years old, she had reached a point where she could not walk or clean herself and had to be carried to her litter box. Even more seriously, she developed diabetes, needed insulin twice daily, needed her blood glucose monitored – a reading that eventually hit 24, a very dangerous level -- and checked in at the vet’s weekly. Carole checked her beloved cat’s blood count each morning and administered the insulin shots, but most importantly, changed Taffca’s diet to one that shunned wheat gluten. Within four months, her weight was dropping and she no longer required insulin shots. That was four years ago. Taffca’s weight now hovers between 10 and 11 lbs. Now 14 years old, she is healthy, walks, plays and goes to the litter box on her own. This picture is of Taffca at her current weight and the next one is her at her heaviest. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    Taffca brings us a cautionary tale about obesity in cats. Her owners, Carole and Steven Moroz of Komarno, realized things needed to change when Taffca’s weight was pushing 20 lbs. and she had a whole slew of health problems. At 10 years old, she had reached a point where she could not walk or clean herself and had to be carried to her litter box. Even more seriously, she developed diabetes, needed insulin twice daily, needed her blood glucose monitored – a reading that eventually hit 24, a very dangerous level -- and checked in at the vet’s weekly. Carole checked her beloved cat’s blood count each morning and administered the insulin shots, but most importantly, changed Taffca’s diet to one that shunned wheat gluten. Within four months, her weight was dropping and she no longer required insulin shots. That was four years ago. Taffca’s weight now hovers between 10 and 11 lbs. Now 14 years old, she is healthy, walks, plays and goes to the litter box on her own. This picture is of Taffca at her current weight and the next one is her at her heaviest. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • This picture is of Taffca at her heaviest weight. The last one was her at her ideal weight. How did she get there? Taffca brings us a cautionary tale about obesity in cats. Her owners, Carole and Steven Moroz of Komarno, realized things needed to change when Taffca’s weight was pushing 20 lbs. and she had a whole slew of health problems. At 10 years old, she had reached a point where she could not walk or clean herself and had to be carried to her litter box. Even more seriously, she developed diabetes, needed insulin twice daily and her blood glucose monitored -– a reading that eventually hit 24, a very dangerous level -- and checked in at the vet’s weekly. Carole checked her beloved cat’s blood count each morning and administered the insulin shots, but most importantly, changed Taffca’s diet to one that shunned wheat gluten. Within four months, her weight was dropping and she no longer required insulin shots. That was four years ago. Taffca’s weight now hovers between 10 and 11 lbs. Now 14 years old, she is healthy, walks, plays and goes to the litter box on her own. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This picture is of Taffca at her heaviest weight. The last one was her at her ideal weight. How did she get there? Taffca brings us a cautionary tale about obesity in cats. Her owners, Carole and Steven Moroz of Komarno, realized things needed to change when Taffca’s weight was pushing 20 lbs. and she had a whole slew of health problems. At 10 years old, she had reached a point where she could not walk or clean herself and had to be carried to her litter box. Even more seriously, she developed diabetes, needed insulin twice daily and her blood glucose monitored -– a reading that eventually hit 24, a very dangerous level -- and checked in at the vet’s weekly. Carole checked her beloved cat’s blood count each morning and administered the insulin shots, but most importantly, changed Taffca’s diet to one that shunned wheat gluten. Within four months, her weight was dropping and she no longer required insulin shots. That was four years ago. Taffca’s weight now hovers between 10 and 11 lbs. Now 14 years old, she is healthy, walks, plays and goes to the litter box on her own. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • This is Bob. He is 13 years old and weighs about 18 lbs. That is a concern for his owners, Gillian Houghton and family. They haven’t set a target weight for him yet, but they want him to reach a healthy weight. They are concerned that his health is declining as he ages, and they want him to have a long satisfying life. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Bob. He is 13 years old and weighs about 18 lbs. That is a concern for his owners, Gillian Houghton and family. They haven’t set a target weight for him yet, but they want him to reach a healthy weight. They are concerned that his health is declining as he ages, and they want him to have a long satisfying life. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • This is Chichee. He weighs about 16.5 lbs. and his owner Sabrina would like him to weigh about 12 lbs. They are both being very strong: Chichee has not had a Temptations treat in a year. Bravo Sabrina and Chichee. Alas, his last visit to the vet’s was not a good one. He’d gained a pound. Eight-year-old Chichee is very active, Sabrina says, and will become even more active this year with her plan to take him for walks outside on a leash and run up and down the stairs more. Pet Valu Fit Pets Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Chichee. He weighs about 16.5 lbs. and his owner Sabrina would like him to weigh about 12 lbs. They are both being very strong: Chichee has not had a Temptations treat in a year. Bravo Sabrina and Chichee. Alas, his last visit to the vet’s was not a good one. He’d gained a pound. Eight-year-old Chichee is very active, Sabrina says, and will become even more active this year with her plan to take him for walks outside on a leash and run up and down the stairs more. Pet Valu Fit Pets Project

  • Luna is a new addition to Donna and Grant Harris’s family. The five-year-old corpulent calico joins their two other cats and dog. The Harrises have learned a multi-pet household presents quite the challenge when it comes to weight control. But, Donna says, their biggest challenge may be Grant’s soft spot for the lovely Luna, who tips the scales at 16.5 lbs. They’ve developed a very special bond, with Luna riding on Grant’s shoulder or sitting atop the fridge and demanding he feed her. Cats like Luna are hard to say no to, but Donna says she fears diabetes is in Luna’s future if she doesn’t shed some pounds now. Already she is showing some symptoms of obesity: she is getting fur mats on her back because she can’t clean herself properly. They are planning a trip to the vet for some dietary guidance. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

    Submitted photo

    Luna is a new addition to Donna and Grant Harris’s family. The five-year-old corpulent calico joins their two other cats and dog. The Harrises have learned a multi-pet household presents quite the challenge when it comes to weight control. But, Donna says, their biggest challenge may be Grant’s soft spot for the lovely Luna, who tips the scales at 16.5 lbs. They’ve developed a very special bond, with Luna riding on Grant’s shoulder or sitting atop the fridge and demanding he feed her. Cats like Luna are hard to say no to, but Donna says she fears diabetes is in Luna’s future if she doesn’t shed some pounds now. Already she is showing some symptoms of obesity: she is getting fur mats on her back because she can’t clean herself properly. They are planning a trip to the vet for some dietary guidance. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

  • This is a rare photo of Tess as the husky-cross is afraid of cameras. But owner Lauri-Jane Lewis managed to snap a quick shot. Tess, who was adopted from a shelter in 2007, will be nine years old in August. She is blind in one eye, but that doesn’t stop her from stealing food from Lauri-Jane nor from LJ’s cats nor from her four-year-old, if he leaves any food on his special little table. Tess weights just over 100 lbs., and Lauri-Jane would like her to lose 10 to 15 lbs. Tess is walked three times a day, but she just doesn’t seem to be losing the weight. This winter was really bad even for a husky who would let Lauri-Jane know she couldn’t stay out long. Lauri-Jane is aiming to change Tess’s diet and stop the food mooching. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

    Submitted photo

    This is a rare photo of Tess as the husky-cross is afraid of cameras. But owner Lauri-Jane Lewis managed to snap a quick shot. Tess, who was adopted from a shelter in 2007, will be nine years old in August. She is blind in one eye, but that doesn’t stop her from stealing food from Lauri-Jane nor from LJ’s cats nor from her four-year-old, if he leaves any food on his special little table. Tess weights just over 100 lbs., and Lauri-Jane would like her to lose 10 to 15 lbs. Tess is walked three times a day, but she just doesn’t seem to be losing the weight. This winter was really bad even for a husky who would let Lauri-Jane know she couldn’t stay out long. Lauri-Jane is aiming to change Tess’s diet and stop the food mooching. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

  • Meet Stedman. He is a six-year-old tuxedo cat with striking markings. His owner says Stedman is 22 lbs. of love, but he needs to lose some of the fat while keeping all of the love. Stedman is a bit of a card. See the next photo to enjoy his sense of humour. Pet Valu Fit Pet project.

    Submitted photo

    Meet Stedman. He is a six-year-old tuxedo cat with striking markings. His owner says Stedman is 22 lbs. of love, but he needs to lose some of the fat while keeping all of the love. Stedman is a bit of a card. See the next photo to enjoy his sense of humour. Pet Valu Fit Pet project.

  • Stedman has a unique sense of humour. See the last photo for his full story. Pet Valu Fit Pet project.

    Submitted photo

    Stedman has a unique sense of humour. See the last photo for his full story. Pet Valu Fit Pet project.

  • This is Lucy, known jokingly to her family as a bung bologna on toothpicks. But they loved her right from the moment seven years ago when she and brother Jackson needed a temporary home. It was to be just for three months, owner Lynne Guicheret said. Sadly, Jackson died of cancer last year. Lucy and her brother were great companions. They used to chase each other up and down the stairs, Lucy’s main source of exercise. Lynne’s other two cats have no interest in playing with Lucy so she has slowly packed on some weight. She weighs 12 lbs., but she has a tiny frame so Lynne would like her to lose three or four pounds. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

    Submitted photo

    This is Lucy, known jokingly to her family as a bung bologna on toothpicks. But they loved her right from the moment seven years ago when she and brother Jackson needed a temporary home. It was to be just for three months, owner Lynne Guicheret said. Sadly, Jackson died of cancer last year. Lucy and her brother were great companions. They used to chase each other up and down the stairs, Lucy’s main source of exercise. Lynne’s other two cats have no interest in playing with Lucy so she has slowly packed on some weight. She weighs 12 lbs., but she has a tiny frame so Lynne would like her to lose three or four pounds. Pet Valu Fit Pet Project

  • Comet is an eight year old rescue cat from the Winnipeg Humane Society. He weighs just over 17 lbs., says owner Gail Wise who adopted Comet two years ago. She knows he isn’t obese, but he is getting a bit chunky and Gail would like to stop the weight gain before it is a problem. Maybe even slim him down a little bit as his energy level isn’t very high. Gail tries to make him run around for exercise, but it is not an easy task. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

    Submitted photo

    Comet is an eight year old rescue cat from the Winnipeg Humane Society. He weighs just over 17 lbs., says owner Gail Wise who adopted Comet two years ago. She knows he isn’t obese, but he is getting a bit chunky and Gail would like to stop the weight gain before it is a problem. Maybe even slim him down a little bit as his energy level isn’t very high. Gail tries to make him run around for exercise, but it is not an easy task. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

  • This is Jackie Otto’s mother’s cat Freddie. He weighs about 18 lbs. Freddie is in a power struggle with Mom’s other more trim cat, Drake, as in, Freddie eats Drake’s food even though he is on a different diet. Like a vacuum apparently, Freddie hoovers down his own food, then Drake’s, then anything else he finds. Mother and daughter are stumped, but they are determined to help Freddie by signing him up for the Pet Valu Fit Pet project.

    Submitted photo

    This is Jackie Otto’s mother’s cat Freddie. He weighs about 18 lbs. Freddie is in a power struggle with Mom’s other more trim cat, Drake, as in, Freddie eats Drake’s food even though he is on a different diet. Like a vacuum apparently, Freddie hoovers down his own food, then Drake’s, then anything else he finds. Mother and daughter are stumped, but they are determined to help Freddie by signing him up for the Pet Valu Fit Pet project.

  • Newton is a four-year-old English springer spaniel. Owner Ted Norrington says Newton weighs about 65 lbs. Ted wants to help his dog lose about seven pounds. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

    Submitted photo

    Newton is a four-year-old English springer spaniel. Owner Ted Norrington says Newton weighs about 65 lbs. Ted wants to help his dog lose about seven pounds. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

  • Ocho is four years old, a wonderful, affable, black and white tuxedo cat. He is a British shorthair breed, which means he is a bit pug-faced and naturally stocky, very solid actually, says his owner Carol Kemp. He is far more fond of naps than of exercise, not at all athletic. He uses his cat tube toy to play “submarine,” popping his head out the mid-way hole, rather than racing through the tube. Carol has tried to interest him with catnip and feathery thingies and little toy mice, to no avail. He remains a lump in the face of it all. Recently, a real mouse ran through the house, and Ocho stuck to his relaxing yoga poses throughout the murine crisis. Carol loves her Ocho dearly and wants to help him avoid obesity and all the health risks that come with. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

    Submitted photo

    Ocho is four years old, a wonderful, affable, black and white tuxedo cat. He is a British shorthair breed, which means he is a bit pug-faced and naturally stocky, very solid actually, says his owner Carol Kemp. He is far more fond of naps than of exercise, not at all athletic. He uses his cat tube toy to play “submarine,” popping his head out the mid-way hole, rather than racing through the tube. Carol has tried to interest him with catnip and feathery thingies and little toy mice, to no avail. He remains a lump in the face of it all. Recently, a real mouse ran through the house, and Ocho stuck to his relaxing yoga poses throughout the murine crisis. Carol loves her Ocho dearly and wants to help him avoid obesity and all the health risks that come with. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

  • Here Ocho demonstrates his submarining technique on his cat tunnel. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

    Submitted photo

    Here Ocho demonstrates his submarining technique on his cat tunnel. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

  • Poppy is perhaps the best Valentine’s Day present owner Kendra Howard ever had. The rescue pug is about four years old and had had a rough time of it. She’d suffered through several surgeries, multiple foster homes and was quite obese. Kendra was told Poppy didn’t like to walk, that she would step outside the door, do her business and run back inside right away. In five short months, Poppy has come a long way. She is like a completely different pug, Kendra says. Where Poppy once could barely make it around the block without limping, now she goes on long walks and jumps around like a puppy. Her new family has been amazed to watch the transformation. Kendra feels like she won the rescue pug lottery. Poppy is still overweight, at 22 lbs., heavy for her tiny body. Kendra’s aiming for 18 lbs. and plans to get there by feeding Poppy weight-control food, limiting treats and going on walks several times a day. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

    Submitted photo

    Poppy is perhaps the best Valentine’s Day present owner Kendra Howard ever had. The rescue pug is about four years old and had had a rough time of it. She’d suffered through several surgeries, multiple foster homes and was quite obese. Kendra was told Poppy didn’t like to walk, that she would step outside the door, do her business and run back inside right away. In five short months, Poppy has come a long way. She is like a completely different pug, Kendra says. Where Poppy once could barely make it around the block without limping, now she goes on long walks and jumps around like a puppy. Her new family has been amazed to watch the transformation. Kendra feels like she won the rescue pug lottery. Poppy is still overweight, at 22 lbs., heavy for her tiny body. Kendra’s aiming for 18 lbs. and plans to get there by feeding Poppy weight-control food, limiting treats and going on walks several times a day. Pet Valu Fit Pet project

My family has thrown me in the doghouse.

The problem is our beloved long-haired miniature wiener dog, Zoe, who turns 10 today ("Happy Birthday, Zoe!") has been packing on the pounds and I'm the one shouldering the blame for her excess baggage.

"She's fat and it's your fault!" my wife and daughter growl in unison as they point their accusing fingers. "You're the one giving her treats all the time."

Worst of all, they're right. I'm guilty as charged, which is why last week I finally agreed to take Zoe to visit our veterinarian, Dr. Jim Broughton, who owns Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital on Corydon Avenue, and has looked after our dogs for more than 25 years.

I was expecting bad news, but it turned out to be a little more serious than I expected.

First, Dr. Broughton popped Zoe on the scale. According to the breed standard, she should weigh about 12 pounds at most. In fact, she tipped the scales at 19 pounds, meaning she is 36 per cent over her ideal weight.

"She is seven pounds over the breed standard," he explained, asking me to visualize seven large sticks of butter.

"It's not good," he continued. "She's grossly obese. That's the reality of it. A pound for you or me isn't that important, but a pound for a dog or cat is important. A pound can be like 20 per cent of their body weight, depending on the size of the animal."

Next, he popped my unhappy pet onto an examining table to conduct a body-condition check. He began by running his hands along her flanks. "As you do that, you should be able to feel the individual ribs. In Zoe, I can't do that, I'm just feeling the fat," Dr. Broughton told me.

Then he ran his hands along her spine. "You should be able to feel the tips of the vertebrae," he said. "I can't do that; it's just a smooth layer of fat."

Finally, he did a visual inspection to see if she had an hourglass figure, and ran his hands along her abdomen to see if she is shaped the way a small dog should be.

"Unlike a belly coming up as it should, there's a bloating or distension," he noted. "She has some significant sag. She should have an hourglass figure... with an obvious narrowing at the waist. With her, she's pretty straight from her chest to her hips."

It's cold comfort to discover my miniature dachshund is just the tip of an unhealthy iceberg. Just like the human population, there is a growing epidemic of overweight and obese pets, a health crisis that is putting our best friends at risk of premature death.

As he conducted his exam, Dr. Broughton confirmed there is "absolutely" an epidemic of pets carrying far too many pounds.

"It's an epidemic for the same reasons we see in humans -- not enough exercise, a sedentary lifestyle and people feeding them too much," he said as Zoe puttered around the clinic, fascinated by the scent of its feline clients.

"With the growing bond -- people seeing pets as kids -- it leads to overfeeding. We're killing them with kindness. It's led to obesity in our pets."

He estimated up to 60 per cent of the cats coming to his clinic are overweight. Of that 60 per cent, as many as half would qualify as obese.

Dr. Erika Anseeuw, director of animal health at the Winnipeg Humane Society, said in an interview the problem of overweight and obese pets is more critical than most owners realize.

"It's a very big problem," the shelter's vet said. "We often equate food with love with our pets. I'd say a majority of our pets are overweight, and a fair number are obese as well. It's just as much a problem in pets as it is in people."

She estimated 25 to 40 per cent of pet dogs would be considered overweight or obese, while the problem is even more severe in felines. "Based on the population of cats we see here, I'd estimate 60 to 70 per cent of owned cats are overweight or obese. It's very common in cats."

Who's to blame? Do what I did -- take a hard look in the mirror. "Mostly it's our fault," Dr. Anseeuw pointed out. "We buy the groceries, not the dogs or cats. It's generally overfeeding. It's in the owners' hands.

"They want to share their love through food, and they often are as bad about exercising their pets as they are themselves." Along with poor diets and sedentary lifestyles, there can be underlying medical conditions behind weight gain, so it's essential to have your pet examined by a vet.

The consequences of this epidemic are staggering. Being overweight exposes pets to myriad health conditions, ranging from diabetes, heart disease and respiratory issues to back problems -- especially in dogs like Zoe -- a lower quality of life, senility and behavioral problems.

"They're at higher risk of diseases that are catastrophic and expensive to treat," Dr. Anseeuw warned. "You're shortening their life."

Added Dr. Broughton: "A lot of people don't realize fat is an inflammatory organ, so obesity lends itself to chronic pain. If an animal is experiencing chronic pain and is overweight, one of the first things we do is get them on a diet to reduce body weight."

The prescription for Zoe and the growing legion of pudgy pets sounds simple -- reverse their lifestyle to cut down the number of calories coming in and increase the amount of energy going out.

In reality, as you have already deduced, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. Our vets warn you can't simply cut back on their food. Sudden weight loss can pose a serious threat, especially in cats who are at risk of developing irreversible liver damage from crash diets.

"What we do in the shelter with fat cats is put them on an all-wet food diet that is high in protein and lower in carbohydrates," Dr. Anseeuw said. "Dogs are omnivorous and they do fine with dry food. If you want to feed your cat dry food, at least half their diet must be wet. Dogs are easy to shop for; with cats, the general key is more wet food."

Dr. Broughton said part of the problem has been a sharp increase in production of energy-dense, highly palatable foods that pets are eager to gobble down, leading to overeating. "That's what sells," he noted.

Simply cutting back on the regular food you feed your dog is asking for trouble, because you'll also be cutting back on nutrients and protein essential for maintaining lean muscle mass.

In prescribing a special weight-loss food for Zoe, the vet said: "We don't want to cut back on her protein. When we diet an animal, we want to maintain its lean muscle mass. Prescription food is not only calorie-reduced, it's also formulated to maintain her metabolism so she continues to burn fat and lose weight."

The prescription kibble has to be blended in with the old food over about 10 days to guard against gastrointestinal upset from the change in diet. And, yes, you'll pay more for prescription food, but the extra cost is far less than you'll pay for expensive pet medications you'll likely have to buy down the road.

Then there's the question of exercise, something my wiener dog and myself both need a lot more of. I am under doctor's orders to ensure my pudgy pal gets at least 10 minutes of activity three times a day.

"We have to increase her exercise, but we don't want her running a marathon right away," the vet said.

When it was pointed out the city is in the grips of a brutal deep freeze, Dr. Broughton fired off a list of options. "I've had some clients who walk their dogs on a treadmill," he said. "You can play fetch in the living room, or hide and seek."

For cats, Dr. Anseeuw suggested "making indoor exercise a game. Use a laser pointer as a game, hide their food in different spots so they have to search. You can get them moving. Cats can be exercised easily in the home."

Getting a pet active, along with inducing weight loss and getting them fit, can reduce the risk of senility. "It's not just bones and muscles that are helped; it's their mental health, too," the humane society vet noted.

The thing to remember is your pet's health is in the owner's hands.

"One of the biggest reasons diets in animals fail is the animal decides it's not getting enough and starts begging... for food and the owner gives in," Dr. Broughton warned.

My overweight friend and I are expected to check in with our vet every couple of weeks to see if her weight-loss plan -- and my ability to resist her sad, soulful eyes -- are on track.

It's the only way she's going to get (forgive me) a new leash on life, and I'm going to get out of the dog house. Adds our vet: "It's tough love. Just like killing them with kindness, getting them better is tough love."

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.

 

Fit tips for fat pets

It sounds simple, but it takes time and energy. Here’s a few ideas for getting started:

  • Start with a trip to the vet to work out a safe plan for a healthier diet and increased exercise. "There’s some very healthy weight-loss foods, so the pet has a full tummy but is getting fewer calories," says Dr. Erika Anseeuw, director of animal health for the Winnipeg Humane Society.
  • Your vet can also determine whether an underlying medical condition is playing a role in your pet’s weight gain.
  • Talk to everyone in your house to determine who is feeding the pet and how much they are dishing out.
  • If you insist on giving your pet treats, provide healthier options, such as vegetables. "Stay away from avocados and onions and grapes and raisins," advised Dr. Anseeuw. "But everyday vegetables like carrots, peas, celery and apples are good."
  • "No feeding at the table and no human food. Just dog food," advises Dr.
  • Jim Broughton, owner of Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital on Corydon Ave.
  • Be precise when doling out food.
  • "And use a measuring cup. When we say one cup we mean ONE cup," says Dr. Broughton.
  • Get your pet moving, because exercise burns calories and helps improve mental health. Start slow and work up to longer times and distances. "Exercise, whether a dog or a cat, is very important. An older or arthritic animal may need some help with pain medications or supplements," Dr. Anseeuw notes.
  • No "free-choice feeding." You should be "meal-feeding" your dog twice a day.
  • It’s tough to resist the soulful eyes of a begging dog, but be strong. It’s time for "tough love."
  • There are tons of online resources, but regular visits to the vet are key.
  • The staff at your local clinic are your best allies, agree Dr. Broughton and Dr. Anseeuw.

— Sources: Dr. Erika Anseeuw, Winnipeg Humane Society; Dr. Jim Broughton, Exclusively Cats, and petvalu.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 28, 2014 D1

History

Updated on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:16 AM CST: adds photo, adds video

9:34 AM: adds sidebars

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