One in three dogs and one in four cats in the UK are now estimated to be overweight or obese so the PDSA have developed a Pet Fit Club.
Every year, a group of oversized dogs, cats, rabbits and for the first time ever, small furry pets such as guinea pigs, hamsters,rats and mice, embark on a strict, six month diet and exercise programme devised by the PDSA vets and nurses.
These portly pets then battle it out to be crowned the UK’s pet slimmer of the year.
Last year’s winner was Daisy the Bulldog whose amazing transformation saw her beat off opposition from huge hounds, fat cats and round rabbits.
Diet queen Daisy, from Middlesbrough, had ballooned to over 28kg (4st 6lbs), making her more than 40 per cent overweight, but with the diet Daisy managed to lose 27 per cent of her body weight.
If you call into your local vets the nurses they will be only too willing to weigh your pet and give you advice on whether your pet is overweight and what you should do to help weight loss.
It is a good idea to get into the habit of checking your pets shape and weight every month particularly when they are young.
To check for a healthy shape you can:
Squeeze the base of your dogs tail where it joins the spine. There shouldn’t be any build up of fat.
Run your hands along your dogs back. You should be able to feel the spine and hip bones quite easily under the skin.
Run your hands over your dogs chest and the skin should move freely over the ribs, which should be easy to feel.
A dog with a good shape is more likely to enjoy a long and happy life as being overweight can lead to other problems such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
Operations are more risky for dogs that are overweight.
Your vet will inform you of the correct diet and regime to follow in order to lose weight.
More details of the PDSA’s Pet Fit Club can be found by logging on to the organisation’s website www.petfitclub.org.uk