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Fat camps offer pudgy pets slim-down exercises

Published On: Jul 03 2014 11:38:22 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 03 2014 09:40:24 AM CDT
golden retriever dog closeup

hans peta/SXC

Are you worried your dog is overweight? How about getting your furry best friend into "pawlates," "doga" or even "Barko Polo" to shed those pounds?

You may be able to do just that at one of the fat camps cropping up in response to growing rates of obesity among pets.

These camps offer the doggie equivalents of Pilates, yoga and Marco Polo, to help man's best friend slim down, reports The Associated Press.

Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian and founder of the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention in Calabash, North Carolina, told the AP that 53 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese, a 45-percent increase from four years ago. Carrying extra weight can lead to problems such as diabetes, joint issues, heart disease and decreased life expectancy, Ward said.

New Jersey resident Eileen Bowers signed up her golden retriever Ceili for a five-day fitness camp at Morris Animal Inn in Morristown, New Jersey, last month.

There, Ceili got to experience the aforementioned "pawlates" and spend her time swimming, going on nature hikes and walking on treadmills. It wasn't all work, though. She also enjoyed facials, massages and healthy treats.

Debora Montgomery, the Morris Animal Inn's spokeswoman, told The Associated Press that "doga" and "pawlates," like the human versions, are all about stretching while building strength, balance and flexibility.

The stretches used in "doga" are close to the ground while "pawlates" involves higher balance equipment like exercise balls.

And "Barko Polo"? It's not exactly like its human counterpart. Instead, a staffer yells "barko" and the swimming dog that barks first gets a toy to play with.

Morris Animal Inn, which has offered two or three camps annually since 2009, charges $59 a day or $249 for five days with all the amenities.

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