Baylor's not the only Lab struggling with weight



ORLANDO, Fla. - In our series Baylor’s Boot Camp, we’ve been telling you how extra weight causes all kinds of issues for dogs.

This week, we met a local dog who tore ligaments in both knees because he was so overweight. It was painful and expensive to treat.

Buddy, a beautiful black Lab, had to be wheeled into the vet's office on a wagon.  Extra pressure from being overweight caused him to tear a ligament in his right knee.

The surgery cost his owner more than $3,000. Six weeks later, Buddy tore his other knee and couldn't even stand up.

His owner, Sean Hawkins, told Channel 9 he had to lift the 95-pound dog into a wagon just to take him outside to the bathroom. Buddy's vet didn't want to do a second surgery since the first knee was still healing, so she prescribed hydrotherapy.

“The hydrotherapy is just fabulous. It allows them to build muscle to lose weight and exercise those joints without the weight and strain,” said veterinarian Christine McCully.

Buddy started swimming at Barking Dog Fitness at Rocky’s Retreat three times a week for an hour.

His knee quickly started to heal and even his vet was surprised.

“Without surgery and just doing hydrotherapy and weight loss with diet that he had dropped weight and now was so improved, significantly improved and using that leg," said McCully.

Buddy still swims at Barking Dog Fitness once a week and you can tell how much he loves it.

All the time effort and money put into getting Buddy back to normal wasn't easy, and that changed the way Hawkins now parents his pet.

“I’m going to be a lot more careful about food I give him and be more cognizant of his exercise program,” said Hawkins.  

Baylor’s swimming for exercise, too, but he's not wild about it. His fitness coach, Sherri Capabianca, said he is a typical Lab, which means he doesn't like to work.

Capabianca said Baylor doesn't like to work his back legs or get his ears wet, so she uses a floating collar to keep his ears out of the water. Capabianca also has to force Baylor to kick his back legs.

Baylor's now swimming for 55 minutes.

Channel 9's Vanessa Welch will start running with Baylor next week to get him ready for the SPCA Dog Jog on May 17.  

We will let you know how he does.