New Pet Weight Loss Program Helps Reverse the Growing Trend of Pet Obesity

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Project: Pet Slim Down™ from Purina Veterinary Diets emphasizes veterinary involvement, owner education and peer support as keys to weight loss success

Purina Veterinary Diets

These owners understood the urgency in getting weight off of their pets and wanted them to enjoy the health benefits that occur with weight loss

Project: Pet Slim Down™, a nationwide initiative from Purina Veterinary Diets, unites pet owners and veterinarians in helping overweight pets lose weight and achieve better overall health. Through Project: Pet Slim Down™, pet owners partner with their veterinary teams to achieve sensible, lasting pet weight loss, while receiving online support. Owners also can join others dedicated to helping pets reach healthy body conditions, receiving encouragement from, and sharing experiences with, other pet owners and advocates.

Project: Pet Slim Down™ reflects the ongoing efforts of Purina Veterinary Diets to reduce pet obesity through improved nutrition, pet owner education and veterinary intervention. “Obesity is one of the most prevalent health problems facing pets today, but one of the most treatable — and preventable,” said Grace Long, DVM, MS, MBA, director, technical veterinary marketing, Nestlé Purina. “Project: Pet Slim Down™ takes a common sense approach to pet weight loss with tools for pet owners and veterinary professionals that help make success achievable.”

Obesity: Preventable Problem

The number of overweight dogs and cats in America continues to rise. According to a recent survey among veterinarians conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats in their care are overweight or obese (at least 20 percent above ideal weight).

“Many owners don’t realize that excess weight puts their pets at greater risk for developing serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis,” said Long. “While those health conditions can be managed, obesity can be reversed. With the help of a supportive owner and veterinary team, a diet formulated for weight loss, and regular exercise, pets can achieve healthy, gradual weight loss and ultimately enjoy a more ideal weight and body condition.”

Eight Pets, 90 Days, One Goal

A key component in Project: Pet Slim Down™ is the Realty Series DVD that chronicles the weight loss journeys of eight pets on the program. One was Courtney, a 7-year-old Shih Tzu. At the initial weigh-in, Courtney was 19 pounds. Courtney had always been plump and, after giving birth to six puppies, didn't lose her "baby weight."

Enrolling in Project: Pet Slim Down™ gave Courtney a new lease on life. After 90 days on the program, she was 4 pounds lighter. After losing weight, she is able to manage stairs with no problem and jump on the couch unaided.

The videos document 12 weeks of monitored feeding, veterinary weigh-ins and physical activity. Pets were supervised by a veterinary healthcare team: Meredith Rettinger, DVM, Laurel Pet Hospital, West Hollywood, Calif.; Stacy Fuchino, VMD, PV Village Pet Clinic, Redondo Beach, Calif.; Joanne Bak, DVM, Animal Specialty Group, Los Angeles; and Paloma Fierro, veterinary technician, Animal Specialty Group.

“These owners understood the urgency in getting weight off of their pets and wanted them to enjoy the health benefits that occur with weight loss,” said Rettinger. “Many of the pets were limping or didn’t want to walk because they were carrying excess weight.”

Videos of Courtney and the other Project: Pet Slim Down™ Reality Series participants are available at http://www.projectpetslimdown.com.

Support to Stay on Track

Owners who enroll their pets in Project: Pet Slim Down™ can help their pets experience the same kind of success as Courtney has, with tools that provide ongoing support and encouragement. These include joining other pet owners and advocates dedicated to helping pets achieve healthier body condition; e-mails with pet health tips and stories of successful weight loss; brochures tailored to dog or cat owners with information; tips and friendly reminders to help stay on course; and coupons and rebates for Purina Veterinary Diets® products. Pet owners can invite friends and family members to track their progress on Facebook and celebrate success with badges.

“Project: Pet Slim Down™ is designed to help owners stay motivated and be active participants with their veterinary teams in pet weight loss, with regular weigh-ins, ongoing encouragement, and practical advice for diet and exercise,” Long said. “It’s all about improving pet health.”

To enroll a pet in Project: Pet Slim Down™, go to http://www.projectpetslimdown.com.

About Nestlé Purina

One of the leading global players in the pet food industry, Nestlé Purina PetCare produces Purina Veterinary Diets®, nutritional aids formulated for the dietary management of dogs and cats with certain health problems. Each diet provides a proper balance of total nutrients while meeting special dietary needs. They are available exclusively through veterinarians.

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Andy Jacobson
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