Pudgy pups have a new workout toy

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Just like their owners, dogs can pack on the pounds and their health risks increase just the same.

Last year, Ike Kinlaw and his wife Anna noticed their 4-year-old Shih-Tzu "Lily" had gained a significant amount of weight, from 15.5 pounds to 18.7. On such a small frame, she started to lose her mobility.

They knew they'd have to start controlling her portion sizes, but Ike had another idea.

Using his experience as a personal trainer, he remembered seeing the effectiveness of a weighted walking regime. Specially designed weighted vests or wrist bands can be used to increase the calorie burn of exercise.

Ike designed several prototypes of a vest that could be used for dogs. He added only a few ounces to a simple strap that didn't provide excess joint stress on Lily's small frame.

A few months later, Lily was down to a svelte 14.4 pounds, her ideal weight.

Ike's veterinarian Michele Rohrer at Atlantic Animal Hospital was surprised at the results, but skeptical about the device.

Ike asked her to endorse his invention but Michele insisted on a clinical trial in order to assure consumers of its effectiveness.

They randomly selected a group of dogs from a pool marked for having weight issues.

Their study found that dogs wearing the device lost four times as much weight as those who weren't wearing it.

Michele and Ike note that the dogs' exercise increased and a nutritional program was also added.

Michele agreed to endorse the product and now sells it in the lobby. She hopes to encourage dog owners whose pets suffer from joint problems to test out the product due to its low impact on the animal's body.

The TrimDog system includes a DVD and comes in three sizes. The heaviest size is only one pound.

Ike says that since dogs do not usually carry additional weight, even that small stimulus makes a difference.

To find out more about TrimDog, head to www.trimdog.com.

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