Head nurse Allison Hodgson, from White Cross Vets in Redcar, has been awarded the title of "Hill’s Weight Management Nurse of the Year", after helping over 1,000 dogs to lose weight over the last 25 years.

Hill's Territory Manager, Leigh Allen said: "Weight management is often a difficult subject to broach with clients as no-one likes to think that they’re causing harm by loving their pets a bit too much. Allison has a passion and enthusiasm for the subject that is infectious. From the initial consult she engages with clients and helps them to start their pet’s weight loss journey, whether that may be losing a couple of pounds or half their body weight.

"She believes whole heartedly in the benefits of weight management and goes the extra mile to help people, always being there to support them, especially if it hasn’t been good news at the weigh in. Her ability to relate to, and communicate with clients is her greatest asset, and because people feel at ease, Allison is able to work with the owners to deliver huge success stories for their pets.

"I have never met anyone who can so successfully get people to make that initial first step to address a weight problem. Once owners begin to see the benefits they are generally really happy to continue, but convincing them to make take that first step is often hard. Allison really leads by example and she sets an amazing example to the rest of the team, so gold standard becomes the normal for the Redcar practice. She deserves to have her achievements recognised with this award."

Allison said: "I’ve been running weight loss clinics for 25 years and pets come to them having been recognised as being overweight by a vet or through nurse-led physical examination clinics.

"We probably have 40 pets on the weight loss programme at any one time, and the amount they lose depends on the size of the dog and other factors such as age, mobility and medical conditions. Each dog is very special to me, as I get to know them and their owners really well throughout the programme. Helping them to get healthy is very rewarding and probably the best part of my job."

One pet that has lost over a third of his body weight since joining the weight loss clinic six months ago is seven year old Cavalier Kings Charles Spaniel, Dexter. His owner Mrs Hughes said: "Allison suggested to us that being overweight could have lasting consequences for Dexter and even reduce his life expectance. His breed has a predisposition for heart disease, and she suggested we start a food diary and move onto the special metabolic food as soon as possible. 

"Over the last six months Allison has been with us every step of the way – monitoring his measurements, health and weight regularly. We even talk about his achievements when we meet at our own ‘Weight Watchers’ group, and use him as a great example of what can be achieved! 

"Dexter’s whole life has changed since we started on the programme and we feel confident he’ll live longer as a direct result of what has been achieved. It’s been hard, but with the support and mentoring that Allison has given us we have been able to work together and get Dexter to where he needs to be. The health check-ups not only kept us on the right track but they also ensured he didn’t lose the weight too quickly as that can be dangerous too.

"Dexter now really enjoys his regular walks and can now happily trot up hills without effort or exertion. In his latest check-up we found out he had lost a third of his body weight, and we have seen a significant increase in his energy levels and mobility. We are so grateful to Allison for helping us to give Dexter a brighter and longer future with us."

Fi Marjoram, Nurse Programme Coordinator from Hill’s Pet Nutrition Ltd, added: "Choosing a winner for the Hill's Weight Management Nurse of the Year is always a real challenge with so many outstanding entries. Allison won the award for a number of reasons, not least the incredible testimonials we received from her clients and colleagues. Allison and her team set themselves some clear goals that they exceeded time and time again, and we were so impressed with her dedication to her clients. She is clearly a valued, respected and much revered member of her team."

Photo: Allison Hodgson holding Dexter, whilst Dexter's owner, Mrs Hughes, holds Allison's award.