Helping Pets Shed Extra Pounds

You may not expect Jillian Michaels, one of the personal trainers on NBC’s hit series “The Biggest Loser,” to have an obesity problem in her own household. But her chubby Chihuahua, Baxter, is one of a rapidly growing number of America’s portly pets that are tipping the scales at an all-time high.

Baxter is currently 11 pounds, while his ideal body weight is eight pounds.

“I’ve made the same mistake that many other pet owners have made by giving Baxter too many treats,” admits Michaels. “Because I love him so much, it can be hard to say no. But in the long run, I know that keeping Baxter at an ideal weight will make him a happier and healthier dog.”

To help her dog lose weight, Michaels is part of the Hill’s 2006 National PetFit™ Challenge, a competition designed to help raise awareness of the serious consequences of pet obesity and encourage owners to make positive changes to their pets’ lifestyles. Her veterinarian helped create a personalized plan for Baxter, which includes changing his food to a low-fat, reduced-calorie food, Hill’s Prescription Diet® r/d®, and making sure he gets plenty of exercise.

As many as 40 percent of American household pets are obese or overweight-that’s 48 million cats and dogs-yet few pet owners recognize the seriousness of the condition. If you think your pet may be lugging around some excess pounds, it is important to speak with your veterinarian.

To give your pet a chance at stardom when he or she reaches a target weight, enter your pet into the Hill’s National PetFit™ Challenge. Twelve regional winners (six cats and six dogs) will win fabulous pet prizes and an all- expense-paid trip to New York City for the final awards ceremony. The two national winners (one cat and one dog) will also receive two round-trip airline tickets and a three-night accommodation at an upscale, pet-friendly hotel, and will be awarded the title of champions.