Obesity is as much of a problem in dogs as it is in humans, and Malinda Malone and Jennifer D’Oliveira see it all too often at their Malinda’s Pampered Pets and Potato Chips Pomeranian Rescue in Ahwatukee.
Some time ago a woman approached the Ahwatukee duo with a dog she wanted to surrender to their rescue. The dog was suffering from terrible knee problems and kidney problems and the owner said she couldn’t afford the surgeries.
“I said, ‘Let me be honest with you,’” D’Oliveira said. “’Your dog is morbidly obese.’ She should have weighed 8 pounds. She weighed 22. I told her to bring her in and we would teach her how to track what the dog was eating and how much exercise it was getting and said if she could get the weight off her, most of those problems would go away. After she left my son looked at us and said, ‘Mom, why don’t you guys have a class on this for your customers?’”
Malone and D’Oliveira have had success getting weight off of Pomeranians that have been brought to the rescue. They’ve also had success keeping their own dogs slim and healthy and they’ve often been able to give advice to customers of Malinda’s Pampered Pets. Still, obesity is an epidemic and so a six-week boot camp to help dogs of any breed lose weight seemed like a good idea.
“Sixty-five percent of dogs and 48 percent of cats are overweight and obese,” D’Oliveira said. “People think they’re loving their pets by over-feeding them, but they are not. You would be shocked how many dogs we get that have been fed nothing but people feed. Dog’s stomachs are not made to process that.”
The six-week program will be similar to any boot camp a human would go through to lose weight. Classes will be for one hour each week with a weigh-in at each class. The first week participants will learn about nutrition and will be given a notebook to track exercise and food intake. They’ll also be given a goodie bag with a T-shirt for the owner, a bandana for the dog, and special low-calorie treats called Lean Licks that Malinda’s is the only company in the state to carry. The program is being sponsored by Sojos, a healthy dog food company, who will also be on hand to explain their products.
During the course of the boot camp participants will hear from a veterinarian, a holistic pet health expert and will learn about different forms of exercise for dogs. It will also focus on how to maintain the weight loss moving forward.
“It’s just like a human,” Malone said. “You have to make a life change. Animals are so dependent on us. They’ll eat till they explode. They don’t know to stop. The big problem is training the people to take care of their dogs properly. Many people just don’t know how.”
The camp is $150 for six weeks and will begin Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Malinda’s Pampered Pets, 4302 E. Ray Road, Suite 109, in Ahwatukee. Clients can sign up at Malinda’s Pampered Pets or by calling (480) 753-5766.
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