Pet Obesity Awareness Day: One dog’s journey

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  – When Rudee, a 6-year-old golden retriever, came to BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital, she suffered from the same condition that afflicts more than half of dogs

Rudee after her weight loss (Photo courtesy of Hildy Gantz)

Rudee after her weight loss (Photo courtesy of Hildy Gantz)

and cats in the United States: She was overweight.

The pup had also been diagnosed with lymphoma, and the 20 extra pounds she was carrying was going to make treatment more difficult, said Dr. Christine Swanson, a board-certified oncologist with BluePearl.

“When a pet is obese, it can be harder to get the correct dosage with chemotherapy,” said Swanson. “It was clear Rudee needed to lose some weight. Thankfully, her owner was on board and we were able to get her down to a healthier size.”

Today, two years later, Rudee is not only cancer-free, she’s also fit and trim. And although Pet Obesity Awareness Day was on Oct. 7, Swanson hopes the message of Rudee’s story will inspire other pet owners to take action to help their pets slim down all year long.

“Just like with people, we’re seeing an increasing number of overweight pets,” said Swanson. “That extra weight ages dogs and puts unnecessary stress on their joints.”

Losing weight wasn’t an overnight process, said Hildy Gantz, Rudee’s “mom.” She worked with Swanson to safely and gradually reduce the amount of food Rudee received. Gantz also increased Rudee’s physical activity, taking her on walks and encouraging her to swim in the backyard pool in the summer.

The hardest part? Ignoring Rudee when she begged for a treat.

“It’s hard to refuse those puppy dog eyes,” said Gantz. “But I knew it was ultimately better for her to say no.”

Rudee being treated at BluePearl (BluePearl Veterinary Partners photo)

Rudee being treated at BluePearl (BluePearl Veterinary Partners photo)

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day is a day to raise awareness about the growing pet obesity problem in the U.S. as well as an opportunity to gather more information during the Ninth Annual Pet Obesity Awareness Day survey.

According to last year’s survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 58 percent of cats and 52 percent of dogs in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese.

In addition to a decreased life-expectancy, animals who are overweight are at risk for cranial cruciate ligament injury, heart and respiratory disease, insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, as well as osteoarthritis.

For more information about National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, contact your family veterinarian and visit