There are two types of stories that are slam-dunks with readers everywhere: Weight loss and animals.
Put them together and you have one epic general interest story sure to please most readers.
Cue Kai, the golden retriever that stole the show on “Good Morning America” Friday morning.
Kai had been 100 pounds overweight topping out at a whopping 173 pounds. He could barely move and was on his way to be put down when his life took a turn for the better.
The vet had never seen such an obese animal but thought Kai was worth a second chance. So instead of putting the dog down, the vet called in an animal rescue organization to find a foster family willing to help out.
“Obesity is the No. 1 health threat pets face, and the most important pet health decision owners make each day is what and how much they feed,” says veterinarian Ernie Ward who founded The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in 2005.
Earlier this year, the association reported that pet obesity rates have hung steady through 2018 with 59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs classified as overweight or obese.
With their latest findings, Ward said a “majority of pet owners are overwhelmed with pet food choices and conflicting dietary advice.”
Ward says vets need to offer more obesity treatment options than to simply feed less and exercise more.
But diet and exercise is exactly what helped Kai’s foster family reclaim his life.
When Pam Heggie took Kai on, she says it took him 20 minutes to climb the steps and get through her front door.
She put Kai on a strict diet and started walking him three times a day. She says in the beginning he could only take five to 10 steps before stopping.
They started small and built up. The goals were incremental: the end of the driveway, then the neighbor’s driveway and so on.
The key, she said, was to keep at it every single day. That’s easier said than done.
If a little triple digit weather deters my ambitions, can you imagine what several feet of snow and sub-zero temperatures mean for Kai and Heggie who live in Canada?
In the year Heggie had Kai, he dropped 100 pounds and is a regular, rambunctious golden retriever. Heggie formally adopted him, too.
It’s easy to let your pets bulk up. Over the last year, I’ve had some success helping one of my dogs drop more than 10% of her weight. She was on an upward trajectory. We cut her food back after the vet warned us that the feeding guidelines on the dog food bag are generally higher than what they should be.
We started by shaving a little off each feeding until we cut her food down by a third. I don’t think she’s any hungrier and seems a lot better for it. We also try not to toss her dinner leftovers.
There’s a bigger lesson for all of us, pets and humans alike: Eat better and move more.
And even a small effort of either can have positive impact if you stick with it every day.