"He should weigh about 50, 55 pounds," Pat Shaw said. Like most at the lecture, the Shaws worry about between-meal snacks. "Our concern was the treats, because Rudy likes his treats," Pat Shaw said. "It is a challenge, because many times it is a painful process," Melo said of ignoring pets' begging.
"It's all on us," Poulin said, explaining owners must modify their own behavior when it comes to feeding pets. Common mistakes include feeling guilty when pets show signs of hunger, not measuring portions, disappointment about slow weight loss and poor understanding of the calories in pet treats and table scraps. Any pet exceeding its breed's ideal body weight by 15 percent is considered overweight, and a weekly loss of 1-2 percent is the best to be expected, Melo said. Overweight pets face greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders and arthritis, Poulin said. Poulin recommends experimenting with dogs' diets, as many enjoy green beans, raw carrots and other vegetables. She suggests small, lean pet treats, feeding only half at a time. A large Milk-Bone contains the total calories a 12-pound dog should ingest in an entire day, Poulin said. To monitor contestants' progress, Poulin suggests monthly weigh-ins at Timberlane, allowing for diet adjustments, if necessary. "It was mostly a dog crowd, but there are a lot of cats that need it, too," Poulin said after the nutrition lecture. The pet hospital can be reached at (813) 754-7387, or go to www.TimberlaneVet.com