Americans aren't the only ones facing growing waistlines and poorer health due to obesity. Turns out, our pets are feeling the battle of the bulge, too.  

According to a recent NY Daily News article, 53 percent of dogs are now considered overweight or obese, conditions that affect canines just as they do humans — with side effects including heart disease, diabetes, joint problems and a decreased life expectancy.

What's the solution? Less food and more exercise. But that can be easier said than done in homes where pooches sit idle all day while their families are at work or school. Often, once the pet becomes overweight, it can be difficult to turn the situation around and encourage healthier habits. An overweight dog won't want to go for a walk, no matter how much he liked walking before the weight gain.

However, there's a new kind of doggie spa that will address this very issue. Essentially, it's fat camp — for dogs.

Doggie facilities such as the Morris Animal Inn in New Jersey offer various overnight packages designed to help dogs lose weight. Dogs do "pawlates," go swimming, explore on nature hikes, and work the treadmill. They are also pampered with facials, massages and healthy treats such as organic granola, string beans and carrots.  

They work out, enjoy a lot of pampering, and hopefully lose some weight.

Of course, not all doggie fat camps are the same. If you're thinking about sending your favorite four-legged friend off to camp, be sure to do some research and make sure it's a solid program. Talk to your veterinarian for recommendations on facilities or for other ways you could help your dog shed some weight.

Would you send your dog off to fat camp?

Related posts on MNN:

Would you send your dog to fat camp?
More than 50 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese and in danger of developing heart disease, diabetes and joint problems.