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Doggie fat camps: weight-loss programs for pets

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Chase, 7, is working off his lunch. Next door, Bozun is running stairs. Earlier in the day he played an intensive game of catch. The 2-1/2-year-old golden retriever has work to do because his vet says he's almost 20 pounds overweight.

The battle of the bulge is not just being fought by us humans anymore. According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, nearly 55 percent of our dogs and cats are overweight or obese. And that's spurred a growth of what some call doggy fat camps.

At the Morris Animal Inn in Morristown, N.J., where Bozun works out twice a week, they prefer the term weight-loss program so as not to offend any of the four-legged clients.

"We have dogs that are heavy and those that are fit that come in to maintain that level," said Debora Montgomery.

We've seen the dogs run the treadmill and the stairs, but if you really want to get a dog's heart rate up throw a ball into a heated pool. It's clearly a favorite activity among the pups, and can you blame them?

But programs like these are pricey. And experts say that they're only worth it if pet parents uphold their end of the bargain.

"Just solving that end of the equation isn't really curing the entire problem, because we still have pet parents who are giving their pets too much food and too many treats," said Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian and founder of the Association of Pet obesity prevention. He said the most important decision you can make about your pet's health is what you feed it.

Yogurt veggie parfait is on the snack menu at the Morris Animal Inn. But the dogs just want to keep playing. They're more concerned with chasing the ball than dropping the pounds.

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