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PDSA helps UK pets to reach a healthy weight

Vet charity PDSA has named the heavy dogs, cats and rabbits taking on the pet weight-loss challenge – PDSA Pet Fit Club.

This year’s fat fighters include a rabbit with a serious carrot habit, a cat so big it got stuck in the cat flap and a pint-sized Pug who dines on chicken nuggets.

Together the line-up of pets – which includes three dogs, three cats and a giant rabbit – weigh a staggering 18st 7lb (118kg). That’s more than heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (113kg). Together, they need to lose a total of 7 stone (42.55kg).

Pet Fit Club

Pet Fit Club is an annual six-month diet and exercise programme, tailored and overseen by expert PDSA vets and nurses.

Rebecca Ashman, PDSA Vet, who helped select this year’s Pet Fit Club participants, said: “Pet obesity is a growing issue that affects millions of UK pets. Up to 40 percent of dogs and cats in the UK are estimated to be overweight or obese, but the true figure is possibly much higher.

Carrying excess weight can have serious health risks and increase the chances of pets suffering from life-limiting and life-threatening diseases including arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

Professor Alex German, of the University of Liverpool, is an expert on pet obesity and supports this view. He states: “Obesity is the most concerning disease of our time, and can cause a range of illnesses as well as affecting quality of life. Recent research studies show that owners do not realise their pet has obesity, meaning that they are not getting the care they need.”

Rebecca continues: “With the help of PDSA Pet Fit Club, these owners are making the necessary lifestyle changes to help get their pet down to a healthier weight. We will support them every step of the way over the next six months to ensure they succeed.

“Sadly, too many pets are being fed inappropriate, unsuitable diets and not receiving enough exercise. At PDSA we are committed to educating owners on how to keep their pets fit and healthy before the problem gets even worse. If owners are unsure what to feed their pets, or are concerned about their weight, their first port of call should be their vet who will be able to advise on how to lose weight healthily.”

Meet the pets

Alfie (Middlesbrough)

4st 10lbs (30kg), six-year-old bulging Beagle Alfie is 67 percent overweight, according to the PDSA.

Alfie’s owner, Emily Simcox (25), adopted him four years ago. His previous owner’s busy lifestyle, and young children, meant they found it difficult to take him on walks and give him the time and attention he needed to be fit and healthy. A taste for corned beef and Sunday dinners, as well as chips from the takeaway, has meant his waistline has continued to expand over the years.

Alfie needs to lose nearly 2st (12kg) to reach his ideal weight.

Barnaby (Derby)

1st 4lb (8.1kg), 10-year-old Barnaby the cat is around 65 percent overweight.

Deborah admits they have spoiled their ‘fur baby’ rotten ever since adopting him from a rehoming centre in 2011. Every morning he wakes to find a bounty of food and goodies in his bowl, including cat food, biscuits, a fresh bowl of creamy milk and leftovers.

Barnaby needs to lose half a stone (3.2kg) to reach his ideal weight.

Diesel (Sheffield)

5st 8 lbs (35.5kg), ten-year-old Staffie, Diesel, is 42 percent overweight.

Diesel’s owner, Teresa Gash (42), says he hasn’t always been so obese, but his love of food and reluctance for exercise has meant he’s piled on the pounds. The grandkids feeding him his favourite chips, pizza and veg off their plates hasn’t helped either.

Diesel needs to lose around 1st 9lb (10.5kg) to reach his ideal weight.

Lola (Derby)

Weighing over a stone (7.4kg), rabbit Lola is around 36 percent overweight.

Owner Karen Birks (47) says her  rabbit’s size is due to her husband Gary feeding her too many carrot treats. Her poor diet was compounded over the winter months, when her dislike of the cold weather and rain meant she remained tucked up in her hutch, rather than exercising out in the garden.

Lola needs to lose around 4lb (1.9kg) to reach her ideal weight.

Marshall (Blackpool)

2st 4lbs (14.95kg), Marshall the Pug is 66 percent overweight, according to the PDSA (and being overweight can be especially dangerous for flat-faced dogs like pugs).

Marshall’s owner, Richard Molyneux (34), says he eats anything and everything he can get his paws on – including the fat from steaks, chicken nuggets and leftovers from dinner. Marshall is well known for his huge appetite and even got in a fight with another dog over food and needed veterinary treatment for a bitten ear.

Marshall needs to lose a stone (5.95kg) to reach his ideal weight.

Milo (Margate)

Milo weighs 1st 12lb (11.8kg) – making him around 97 percent overweight.

Milo’s owner, Lou Eldridge, says her cat has been big ever since he was a kitten. His excessive diet and reluctance to exercise has led him to him pile on the pounds over the years.

Milo needs to lose nearly a stone (13lb/5.8kg) to reach his ideal weight.

Pumpkin (Aberdeen)

1st 8lbs (10.2kg), Pumpkin the cat is 46 percent overweight.

He gets fed three times a day and does virtually no exercise as he hates going outside. His expanding waistline is due to being fed ice cream and crisps.

Pumpkin needs to lose half a stone (3.2kg) to reach his ideal weight.

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