Program prompts veterinarians, clients to address pet obesity

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Misty is a weight-loss success story. The Golden Retriever lost a third of her body weight through diet and exercise.

She also is the canine winner of the America's Fittest Pets Contest, part of the Alliance for Healthier Pets—Obesity Awareness and Prevention Program. The AVMA and Hill's Pet Nutrition partnered last year in creating the program to encourage veterinarians and pet owners to improve pets' weight management.

In the first year of the initiative, U.S. animal hospitals requested more than 12,000 Obesity Awareness and Prevention Kits. The Web site at recorded about 80,000 visitors—including more than 16,000 who pledged to recommit to providing pets with a healthy lifestyle.

This year, the AVMA-Hill's alliance is offering new communication and compliance kits for veterinary clinics to address weight management. The initiative also is releasing public service announcements to highlight the dangers of obesity in animals and the importance of routine veterinary visits.

Misty belongs to Dorene Davis from Holiday, Fla. Tabatha, Davis' 8-year-old daughter, said their veterinarian explained how much to feed Misty and recommended exercise. The dog went from 118 pounds to 78.

Thomas, the feline winner of the Fittest Pets Contest, belongs to Sharon Decuir from Fort Worth, Texas. With changes in diet, the cat soon dropped from 17 pounds to 15.8. Decuir looks forward to his continuing weight loss.

Veterinary team members can call (888) 7-PETFIT or visit to request a 2009 Obesity Awareness and Prevention Kit or for information about the Alliance for Healthier Pets.