Vet charity PDSA is appealing for the UK’s fattest pets to enrol in a national pet slimming competition. The call comes as stats reveal up to half of UK pets (46% of dogs, 34% of cats and 30% of rabbits)* are believed to be overweight or obese.
The charity’s vets are warning owners that overfeeding and not providing enough exercise is driving an obesity epidemic among our four legged friends, which is risking their long-term health and happiness.
To help tackle the problem, they are searching for the UK’s podgiest pets to take part in this year’s PDSA Pet Fit Club – the UK’s top pet slimming competition.
Now in its 14th year, the contest has helped 137 overweight pets (85 dogs, 42 cats, 8 rabbits and 2 rats) lose an incredible 75 stone - equivalent to 1,190 cans of dog food! The competition’s 2018 joint winners, Sadie the Labrador from Basildon and Borris the Spaniel from Kent, shed a total of 2st 12lb (17.8kg) between them – 25% of their bodyweights.
Owners can enter their pets in Pet Fit Club at pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub.
PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: “Obesity has been a huge problem among UK pets for a number of years and sadly there is no sign of improvement. It is one of the biggest long-term health concerns for our pet population, because it is so commonly seen by vets and nurses.
“Animals who are overweight have a much greater risk of developing health problems such as arthritis and diabetes – which can have drastic consequences.
“Excess weight can also seriously aggravate other medical problems, for example making it even more difficult for flat-faced breeds like Pugs and French Bulldogs to breathe. Research has also shown that carrying too much weight can even reduce a dog’s life expectancy by up to 2 years and 6 months**.”
Pet Obesity: The Facts***
“It’s well known that we are a nation of animal lovers,” continues Olivia, “but unfortunately a lot of pet owners are showing this love and affection using food. But this way of ‘treating’ your best friend can be bad for their health in the long run.
“Pets don’t need human food, in fact a lot of it can be very bad for them. They should be fed a complete pet food suitable for their age and weight, with occasional healthy treats. Our pets also need regular, varied exercise, suitable for their health and to keep their minds stimulated.
“A much healthier way to spoil a pet is to spend time with them, like taking them for an extra walk, buying them a new toy or giving them more playtime.”
About PDSA Pet Fit Club
Up to 15 overweight pets (dogs, cats, rabbits and rats) from across the UK will be chosen to participate in PDSA Pet Fit Club.
Previous ‘losers’ include Alfie the dog who lost a record 39% of his bodyweight – he had piled on the pounds after tucking into Sunday roasts with his owner. Pet Fit Club also helped Zorro the cat, who enjoyed eating cheese and onion crisps, lose a fifth of his bodyweight.
Selected pets are placed on a strict six-month diet and exercise programme, individually tailored to their needs and overseen by vets and vet nurses at their local PDSA Pet Hospital.
Participants receive free diet pet food for the duration of the competition courtesy of Dechra Specific. The overall Pet Fit Club Champ, crowned at the end of 2019, will win a year’s free diet food and a pet friendly holiday.
Owners can find out more and apply online at pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub or by calling the Pet Fit Club team on 01952 797246. The closing date is Sunday 3 March 2019.
Olivia concludes: “Over the years PDSA Pet Fit Club has helped transform some of the UK’s fattest pets into fit and healthy animals. Pets that could barely walk, climb stairs or fit through cat flaps have been given a new lease of life.
“Prevention is always better than cure, but it is never too late to make a change. With the right advice, a good diet, suitable exercise and a bit of willpower owners have the ability to make a real difference to their pet’s lives. So we’re urging owners who have overweight pets to enter today.”
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