For the past couple of days, the topic de jour at many water coolers has been the dramatic weight loss achieved by the winner of the NBC TV show The Biggest Loser. Here at Pet Business Media, however, we’ve been awaiting the results of a very different weight loss program: the Pet Shape Up Challenge, a Dog and Cat Weight Loss Program.
Fetch! Pet Care, a dog walking, pet sitting and boarding franchise, joined forces with natural pet food manufacturer Halo, Purely For Pets, not too long ago to launch a pilot program designed to fight pet obesity and promote healthy pet lifestyles. The program emphasized exercise—particularly walking and getting active with Fetch! Pet Care pet professionals—and also included a nutritional component. A resident nutritionist from Halo custom-designed the daily feeding routine for each pet in order to control calorie intake and ensure proper nutrition during the Challenge period. Owners were then coached on how to properly feed and exercise their pets as well during the challenge.
In the fall, we introduced our readers to three participants of the pilot program: Wilbur, Bandit and Dixie (pictured above taking a hike during the challenge), and although we don’t have detailed results on the three animals, Fetch! Pet Care’s founder and CEO recently gave us an update how the pets fared during the challenge and what the companies learned from the pilot. He also filled us on in on a possible national rollout.
Pet Business: What were the results of the pilot of the Pet Shape Up Challenge? Did the participating dogs find success under the program?
Paul Mann: All participating pets, including three dogs and one cat, met or exceeded their shape up goals. Not only did the pets lose weight, but they also exhibit far more energy and enthusiasm than prior to the Challenge period.
PB: Tell us about the upcoming rollout. Where and when will the program be launched?
PM: In order to roll out the program effectively to pets across the nation, we will be working internally to develop systems to support the anticipated consumer demand for participation in our program. We expect a full rollout in 2015.
PB: What lessons were learned during the pilot, and how will these lessons shape the program going forward?
PM: This pilot confirmed that every pet is different and has unique needs around daily exercise and nutrition. The prescribed program for each pet needs to be carefully planned out, implemented and tracked to ensure safe weight loss and that the pet maintains a healthy balance in its life. We are pleased that we could deliver such a program to these four pets and look forward to someday expanding our offering across the country.
PB: Why are programs like this important for pets?
PM: We believe pets deserve the best, and that means taking care of their health and providing quality of life. Currently over 50 percent of pets are overweight or obese; causing diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and other health problems that will shorten your pet’s lifespan. What’s worse is that most owners are not able to correctly identify their pet as overweight, making it impossible to get the help they need. At Fetch! Pet Care we think we can do better! That’s why we started the Pet Shape Up Challenge, which invites overweight pets to lose the weight with the right diet and fitness program to produce real life-changing results.
PB: What else can we expect from Fetch! Pet Care in the future?
PM: In April, we plan to release the top-five pet shape up success secrets, as well as roll out a national Facebook contest whereby we will invite pet owners to share their own pet shape up success stories for a chance to win the contest.