Excessive food consumption and a lack of exercise is causing a pet obesity crisis, warns PDSA vets.
To help tackle the problem, the charity is searching for the UK’s chubbiest cats, dogs and rabbits, as it launches its annual pet slimming contest: PDSA Pet FitClub.
Now in its 13th year, the national competition has helped 124 overweight and obese pets (79 dogs, 37 cats and 8 rabbits) lose an incredible 450kg (71 stone) since its launch in 2005: equivalent to a grand piano or 160,000 doughnuts.
Last year’s winner, Alfie the Beagle, from Middlesbrough, successfully shed an astonishing 34 percent of his bodyweight.
PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman said: “Sadly the UK’s pet population is suffering from an obesity epidemic. Latest scientific literature shows that at least a third of dogs and a quarter of cats are clinically overweight or obese, but the true figures could be as high as 40 percent, making obesity one of the most common medical diseases seen by vets. It is a ticking time bomb that will have drastic consequences for our pets.”
Pets chosen for PDSA Pet Fit Club 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.
Early entries in the competition include Elvis the cat from Scotland, who built up his 10kg bulk by snacking on an ‘all day buffet’ courtesy of his devoted owner, and super-sized Jack Russell Alfie who is more than double his ideal weight after enjoying steak sandwiches and pub snacks.
Rebecca continues: “Over the years PDSA Pet Fit Club has helped transform some of the UK’s fattest, unhealthiest pets into fit and healthy animals. Petsthat couldn’t climb stairs or fit through cat flaps have been given a new lease of life.
“Prevention is definitely better than cure, but if owners are worried about their pet’s weight it is never too late to do something about it. 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 health, happiness and life expectancy.
“The charity is urging all owners with pets carrying a few too many pounds to enter them in Pet Fit Club.”
Owners can apply online at pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub. Entry forms are also available from PDSA Pet Hospitals nationwide. The closing date is Sunday 4 March 2018.