The dog’s name fit him just right — Whopper.
The Akita-mix tipped the scales at about 185 pounds — nearly 100 pounds over his ideal weight — when his owners turned him in to the Nebraska Humane Society a few years back.
"He was a big boy,’’ said Pam Wiese, spokeswoman for the society.
Whopper has since trimmed down to a healthy size. The family who adopted Whopper helped him get down to 90 pounds. But not all dogs have weight-loss success stories.
A new report highlights the problem of overweight pets, and Nebraska definitely has its share of butterballs. The state placed second for its percentage of both overweight dogs and cats. The report said 39 percent of dogs and 43 percent of cats in the state are overweight or obese.
Iowa landed in third place for big cats, though they didn't make the top 10 for chunky dogs.
The report is based on the physiques of more than 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats in the United States.
Wiese said part of the problem is owners slipping pets table food, like chunks of cheeseburgers or a slice of pizza. All those snacks turn pets into candidates for "The Biggest Loser."
Owners also go too far rewarding good behavior with treats.
Want to reward your dog for getting off the couch?
Just give him a treat the size of a pencil eraser instead of the whole thing.
Dr. Fred Petersen of Omaha’s Westgate Animal Clinic agreed that too many treats are a problem.
"If they are getting three or four a day, when they should be getting one every few days, it adds up over time,’’ he said.
Cats can also balloon up.
Wiese said that earlier this year owners turned in a tubby cat weighing 27 pounds, more than double a healthy weight.
"It looked like a basketball,’’ she said. "It was a huge kitty."
Surprisingly, fat cats get adopted faster than trim ones, she said — some people think beefy cats are cute.
But overweight cats and dogs face health problems. More than 20 common pet diseases, including diabetes and arthritis, are linked to obesity.
Plump cats even have trouble grooming themselves, because their tummies are so big, they can't reach everywhere with their tongues, leading to parasites and skin infections.
Carol Uebner of Omaha knows that cats can gain weight in a hurry.
About 15 years ago she adopted an underweight cat from the Nebraska Humane Society, and within about three months he weighed 17 pounds, about four pound overweight.
Her veterinarian put the cat on a prescription diet, and it took about a year to get the him down to a healthy weight, said Uebner, who volunteers at the Humane Society.
She now has two cats and a dog and keeps them all at a good weight, partly by never giving them table scraps.
The animals in the new national report were all seen in 2016 at one of the 975 veterinary hospitals run by Banfield, a chain that operates in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Overall, 1 in 3 of those dogs and cats were overweight or obese, based on scores the hospitals’ veterinarians assigned to animals after a visual and physical examination. They want to be able to see pets’ waistlines and feel their ribs (but not see them, because that would mean a dog or cat is too thin).
Not only are lots of American dogs and cats far too heavy, as a group they’re getting heavier all the time.
Banfield says it has tracked a 158 percent increase in overweight dogs over the past 10 years. The prevalence of overweight cats has shot up 169 percent.
Wiese said owners should consult with their veterinarian before helping their pet lose weight.
Petersen, Westgate Animal Clinic, said the best solution generally is to gradually reduce the pet’s food, but owners must be careful.
Overweight cats, for example, can develop liver problems if they go on a strict diet, he said.
Exercise is also key, and that includes indoor cats, who aren’t so easy to take to the dog park. Laser pointers, feather toys and food puzzles — which make cats work for their meals — can be helpful weight-loss tools.
Here are the states with the highest percentage of overweight dogs, according to Banfield's State of Pet Health Report:
And here are the top 10 for cats:
This report includes material from The Washington Post.
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"I bet you're missing a mouse, aren't you?" This is 10-week-old Peanut, who "loves to snuggle and be the center of attention." He's owned by Meggan Farmer in Omaha.
Beware the Phog, err, dog. Luna, a big Kansas fan, loves giving hugs and refuses to give up on the dream of being a lap dog. The Omaha native is owned by Austin Duncan.
There's a lot to take in about Eleanor Riggs-by (Ellie for short). According to owners Sam Riggs and Katherine Leszczynski, Ellie enjoys burrowing into blankets to take naps in complete darkness, looking longingly out the front window for her husband to return from the war and throwing her hat in the ring for the title of world's most regal-looking canine.
Ellie was named the Week 26 Pet of the Week.
According to owners Cayla Iske and Danielle Beebe, Steve McBoots is on pace to be the longest, snuggliest and floppiest cat on Earth. He was adopted from the Nebraska Humane Society on Sept 10.
Trying to guess what Franklin wants is pretty easy. He either wants to go for a walk or get a treat, but probably both. He's owned by Rita Price.
Lily isn't afraid to pose for the camera. The Cavalier King Charles, owned by Justin Hankins in Omaha, loves to watch movies and spend time with her family.
Ted and Henry, who were born on the same day, are brothers from different mothers. They create plenty of mischief for owner Jeff Hoch of Omaha.
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Javi, a 14-year-old Havanese that had to get his eyes removed due to glaucoma, still gets around better than when he was a puppy. He's owned by Darek Hubbell and Carli Rhylander in Bellevue.
Javi was named the Week 25 Pet of the Week!
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I've heard of cowlicks, but doglicks? Wicket loves to sit on the back of the couch and lick people's heads. He's owned by Lindsay Fields in Omaha.
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Nala was named the Week 24 Pet of the Week.
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Owner Judy Hoch of Hastings describes Herbie as the "George Clooney of the house." Handsome, well-dressed and ready for any formal gathering.
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Someone looks comfortable. Pixel, owned by Katie Winchester, had to have her tail amputated at a young age, but her owners can still tell when she's happy.
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Chief takes much better senior pictures than any of us. Chief, owned by Nate in Omaha, will go outside just to get a treat and will follow people around the house only to sprint away when they turn around.
"What am I doing? I'm checking the current status of my mutual fund investments. What does it look like I'm doing?" Orion loves car rides and cuddling with his owner, Julia Lakin.
Cats, squirrels and vacuums beware, Frank (Batman) and Oscar (Robin) are hot on your trail. They are owned by Holly and Ron Barlow.
Reina lives up to her name, which means "queen" in Spanish. She will run up and down the stairs, staring at owner Katie Palmquist of Omaha, until she goes to bed. Then, Reina will paw at the covers until she's allowed under.
Sophi, who lives in Bennington with owner Bobbi, is a "total diva girlie girl."
This English bulldog is Omaha World-Herald royal-ty. Dirk Chatelain once wrote about owner Todd Smith naming him "Gordo" after Kansas City outfielder Alex Gordon. You can read that story by clicking here.
Gordo was named the Week 20 Pet of the Week!
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"Excuse me, can you turn that light off? We're trying to sleep." Hunk, a bulldog boxer mix adopted from Midlands Humane Society, is seen here resting with his friend, Quinton Warren, age 10, of Omaha. The rest of Hunk's family include Kane, Chris and Laura.
Hunk was named the Week 18 Pet of the Week!
Jax is unique because "he loves his butt scratched and is the sassiest dog you could ever meet." He's owned by Andrea Labenz in Omaha.
"I don't know what's cornier, this picture or the joke the person at The World-Herald is going to write about it." Maxine is owned by Janet Brandt in Kearney.
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"Are you going to help those poor dogs that look just like us in the lake or are you going to take pictures?" Matzo, right, and Reuben are named after owner Ryan Kirschenbaum's favorite order at a New York Deli -- Matzo ball soup and a Reuben sandwich. They live in Omaha.
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Max, a lab/American bulldog mix, he was abandoned by his owner when he was six-months-old and has lived with owner Tabitha Barker ever since. He loves to cuddle and play with his favorite toy.
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