According to the Banfield Pet Hospital's 2017 State of Pet Health report, one in three dogs and cats in the US are overweight or obese. And in the past decade, there has been a 158% increase in overweight dogs nationwide.
As greater awareness is raised for pet obesity, more and more stories about incredible weight loss journeys are gaining traction through the news and social media.
Here are nine dogs that went viral for sharing their amazing weight-loss stories.
Not many people know that actress Jane Lynch works with A Purposeful Rescue, a non-profit based in Los Angeles, California. She recently saved a dog named Arbuckle from extreme obesity.
In an interview with People, Lynch recounted Arbuckle's story. Through her rescue work, she met the cattle dog face-down in a field, unable to move. "Somebody had dumped him there," she said. "They didn't even know what kind of animal he was."
Arbuckle, who is estimated to be 8 years old, was 52kg when he was found and currently weighs about 34kg with a goal weight of 29kg. He also had untreated hypothyroid when he was found, but he's now on medication and doing better than ever.
"He's fantastic," Lynch said after he'd lost over 13 kilos. "He's so happy, he's the funniest, goofiest guy."
When Kale Chips was surrendered by his elderly owner in 2015, he had to be wheeled in a wagon to the caretakers at One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue. Weighing 38.5kg, he could barely walk or lift his leg to pee.
Kale Chips gained Facebook popularity for his weight loss journey as One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue told his story through a photo album. Kale Chips' new foster family put him on a diet of fruits and vegetables and took him swimming daily to help him to gradually lose weight. His foster family officially adopted him a year later.
"How's this for a happy ending?" the dog rescue wrote on Facebook back in June 2016. "Kale Chips will be staying with his foster home, who have loved him since they took him in last January. He will get to hang with his foster siblings and stay with the family he has grown to love so much."
Suki is a 9-year-old chihuahua whose weight loss journey began when adopted owner Sadie Cox saw the overweight, 8.6kg pup out on a walk. Suki's then-owner was unable to take care of him properly, so Cox offered to take Suki home.
"He couldn't even lift his leg to pee without wanting to topple over," Cox told The Dodo. "From that moment on I made it my mission to give him his best life. And let him relearn how to be a dog and do dog things like run and play fetch. And be healthy and happy."
After six months, Suki is now down to 4.5kg and still has a kilos to go before he is considered completely healthy. But the 4kg-odd weight loss has changed Suki's life forever.
"As each kilo came off, his personality really started to blossom," Cox said. "He slowly started coming out of his shell, the growling stopped. Now he wants to be the centre of attention at all times. He runs and plays and gives little puppy kisses. He went from an angry, antisocial dog to a little dog full of happiness and love."
Bertha is another rescue chihuahua with a popular Instagram following.
Allison Hackett originally rescued her from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue when her collar read "Monica" and she was 5.4kg, which was nearly two and a half times the weight of a healthy chihuahua.
"I just want to stress that every dog, cat, pet is different and you should always consult your vet before putting an obese pet on a diet," Hackett said on Bertha's instagram. "I have been extremely lucky because Bertha has made it easy. She doesn't beg, she's quiet, and she's not picky. She does constantly have her nose to the ground in a nonstop search for food, but who doesn't do that when on a diet?"
At Bertha's last weigh-in she was just 2.2kg and had successfully reached her goal weight, but at her older age she is now prone to seizures.
Hackett's latest update on her health was bittersweet: "[Bertha] had a seizure this morning which took a little while to wear off, and now it's afternoon and she's enjoying the sunshine, following me around the house, and snoozing on her heated blanket. It's like this morning never happened. I love having a dog because it reminds me to just look forward and enjoy the simple things around you."
According to CBS News, Merlin the border collie was over 42kg and 111% overweight when he started his diet to lose weight. Merlin was a competitor in the PDSA Pet Fit Club campaign. His finishing weight was jut over 31kg, showing that he'd lost over 11kg or 26% of his body weight.
"Pet Fit Club has been a great experience and Merlin has loved it," Merlin's owner told CBS News. "The hard part has been trying to stop Merlin pinching my other dog's food and stopping the treats. Merlin being happy and healthy is all that matters, so I'm really grateful that he was picked to take part in the competition."
Lu-Seal was 7.2kg and unable to walk when owner Julia Morley adopted her. At 9 years old, she's currently down to 3.6kg.
Her Instagram account is committed to helping other pets get healthy and advocating for the end of pet obesity. Morley took to Pet Insider to tell Lu-Seal's story.
"When her new mom adopted her, she was barely able to walk and had arthritis as well as torn CCL ligaments in both knees, meaning her back legs were painful and unstable," Morley wrote. "She's been working hard ever since to get healthier and she's lost a total of almost 3kg. That's like 150 human pounds!"
Morley went on to explain that helping your pet lose weight takes a lot of patience: "Weight loss in dogs, just like in humans, takes time. Check in with your vet regularly to make sure that your dog isn't losing weight too fast or too slow and to adjust their calorie intake as needed to go at the right pace. It's a long and hard road, but it's worth it!"
Dennis the dachshund ate pizza and burgers every day until his new owner stepped in
Back in 2015, nursing student Brooke Burton decided to step in when she realised how obese a relative's dachshund had become. Dennis the dachshund was 25kg when she brought him home. Today, he weighs only 4kg.
According to ABC News, Dennis was on a steady diet of White Castle burgers and pizza until Burton stepped in. "We should not be feeding dogs people food and overfeeding them and giving them an excessive amount of treats," Burton said in the interview. "Just like humans, they need proper diet and exercise to live a good healthy life."
"In the beginning, you could tell he was very depressed, that he really didn't feel good at all," Burton told the Associated Press. "He didn't have much of a personality. After he lost weight, this bossy little demanding man popped out. He's into everything, he wants to play with everybody."
Like Merlin, Ruby the Jack Russell terrier was a contestant in the PDSA Pet Fit Club campaign. The former stray was rescued by Angela and Stephen Martin in 2009 and weighed 9kg at her heaviest weight.
"When Ruby first came to us, we all felt really sorry for her as she'd had such a tough start to life," Angela Martin told the Daily Mail. "So to compensate, we used to give her a little treat here and there. The trouble was, the whole family was giving her 'a little treat' and over time, she started to get really big."
Ruby then entered the Pet Fit Club campaign and was named the winner of 2013. She went from 9kg to just shy of 6kg. "The weight loss means she will feel much fitter and happier, and her life expectancy is likely to be longer now than she has shed the excess weight," PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury said in a press release.
"Winning the competition is wonderful," Martin added. "But the real prize is seeing Ruby enjoying a new lease of life tearing around the garden and playing with her toys."
At 15kg, the senior pug Potato ended up at a city shelter in Los Angeles. Potato's foster mom Neda spotted the dog online and asked the no-kill rescue Love Leo Rescue to help her in rescuing him.
"She knew this gentle, old dog deserved a second chance," Sasha Abelson, president of Love Leo Rescue, told People. "She offered to foster him if Love Leo would be able to rescue him from the shelter. The rest is history."
His last weight update showed him at 11.5kg, now small enough to finally fit on the small dog counter scale. Sadly, his owner revealed in August that Potato had been diagnosed with cancer.
"We got some bad news today - the dreaded C word," Potato's owner said in an Instagram post. "It's not the news we wanted but it's here and we are going to deal with it. We believe in living in the moment, continuing to enjoy being surrounded by love and remaining positive... please keep us in your thoughts and send us some of that positive energy!"
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