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Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches
Dogs have been gaining weight in tandem with their human owners over the past decade. In 2009, a survey of veterinarians by the Association for the Prevention of Pet Obesity found that the number of overweight and obese dogs in America had grown 2 percent over the previous year to 45 percent. Here are some of those corpulent canines. (Image credit: Ernie Ward)

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Ernie Ward)

Extra weight in dogs can cause joint problems, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance, among other obesity-related ailments.

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Brian Vogelsang)

San Diego veterinarian Jessica Vogelsang adopted Koa, a 7-year-old Labrador Retriever, in March. At 85 pounds (39 kilograms), Koa was too heavy to be healthy.

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Brian Vogelsang)

Since March, Koa has dropped seven pounds (3 kg). She's shown here at 79 pounds (36 kg) with a body condition score of seven out of nine (vets use the scale to determine the proper weight for a dog's frame). Four or five out of nine are ideal scores. Koa has been on a company-sponsored trial of Nulo dog food for six weeks, during which she lost three pounds (1.3 kg). "It's not a super-fast, dramatic weight loss," Vogelsang said. "But that's okay, we're heading in the right direction."

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Ernie Ward)

A normal-weight Labrador retriever at veterinarian Ernie Ward's practice in Calabash, N.C.

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Jessica Bush)

Judy, a 5-year-old Border Collie mix owned by Jessica Bush of Birmingham, Ala., gets weighed. At 43.7 pounds (20 kg), Judy needs to lose 5 pounds (2.2 kg).

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Jessica Bush)

Like Koa, Judy is participating in the Nulo trials. The company donates the dog food, but does not otherwise pay the pet owners. Bush says she likes the company's holistic approach. "I have this dream that one day there's going to be a vet that's going to be the Dr. Weil of veterinary medicine," she said, referring to the medical doctor known for blending Eastern and Western medicine.

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Ernie Ward)

Jessica Vogelsang, the veterinarian from San Diego, thinks veterinarians are becoming more aware of nutrition. "Just in talking to students who are graduating more recently, they are becoming increasingly savvy," she said.

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Gail Antos)

Titan, a puggle adopted by Molly Antos of Arlington Heights, Ill., slimmed down after this photo was taken. But seven years of being sedentary and eating junk food in his former home took its toll. Titan had to be put down in early September.

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Gail Antos)

Titan after losing 18 pounds (8 kg).

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Robin Manresa)

Fort Worth, Texas resident Maribeth Ashley looks on as trainer Cindy Hauss measures her dog Jennie's girth. Ashley and her pets are embarking on a joint weight-loss venture.

Heavy Hounds: A Gallery of Portly Pooches

(Image credit: Robin Manresa)

Pickles, who needs to lose 30 pounds (13 kg) get measured. Jennie needs to lose 20 pounds (9 kg), and Ashley hopes to drop 100 pounds (45 kg).

Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.