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Obie the Obese Dachshund On the Road to Recovery


 (Facebook/Biggest Loser, Doxie Edition)

He's the hound who's become famous for his flab, and now he's working to lose a lot of weight.

Obie the dachshund, who made his television debut on this morning's "Today" show, weighs in at a whopping 77 pounds — more than twice what a healthy dachshund should weigh.

His original owners, an elderly couple in bad health, nearly loved him to death by never refusing the portly pooch a meal or a treat.  A relative of the couple convinced them to put Obie up for adoption with the hope that he could slim down.

Now, his new owner Nora Vanetta, a certified veterinary technician with a degree in animal science, says she's on a mission. "I plan to do swim therapy with him and treadmill work once he starts to lose a little," she wrote on a Facebook page set up to chronicle Obie's progress. If all goes well, Vanetta also added that Obie may undergo surgery to remove excess skin.

So how can you keep your dog from following in Obie's footsteps? According to Karen "Doc" Halligan, a doctor of veterinary medicine, a dog's owner has to feed him a strict balanced diet. "What people have to understand is that you need discipline when feeding a dog or cat," says Halligan. "Animal obesity is the owner's fault. It’s almost animal cruelty, letting an animal get that fat."

Halligan suggests feeding your pet canned food, as it's closer to what they would find in nature ("Dogs never hunt for kibble in the wild," she argues), and measuring out each portion. She also advises against feeding your dogs unnecessary treats or leftovers from your meals. "Pet food is already balanced for your pet," says the expert. "You don’t need to supplement it with table scraps." And finally, as Halligan says, "The worst thing you can do is leave food out" for your pet to eat at their leisure. "In the wild, animals eat when they get hungry," she points out. "With food out, they never get the chance to get hungry."

So what foods does Halligan suggest? “I like Natural Balance," she says. "It’s convenient, widely available at stores or through the mail, high quality, good value, tons of different flavors — it’s what I feed my cat.”

We want to know what other dog owners think. What kind of diet is your dog on?