If you’ve got a podgy pet which only moves when it’s dinner time, then help them shed the pounds by entering the PDSA’s Pet Fit Club 2018.
Now in its 13th year, the annual pet slimming contest has helped more than 124 overweight pets lose a massive 450kg (71 stone) – and last year’s weight-loss champ, Alfie, a beagle from Middlesbrough, managed to lose 34 per cent of his excess body weight.
The competition isn’t just for dogs though, and owners of chubby cats and rabbits are also being encouraged to apply.
The PDSA will then select 15 finalists from across the UK, who will compete throughout the year to see who will be crowned weight-loss champion of 2018.
Participants will receive free Dechra diet pet food for the duration of the competition, and the winner will be announced at the end of the year and win a year’s free diet food and a pet friendly holiday, courtesy of Sykes Cottages and pet hamper.
Pet obesity is a serious epidemic in the UK though, and many cats, dogs, rabbits and other animals are being harmed by a lack of exercise and overeating.
For example, according to the PDSA, 1.6 million dogs (17 per cent) aren’t walked daily, and 440,000 cats (four per cent) do not have the opportunity to play or run around.
Then there’s the problem of overfeeding. In the UK, 5.7 millionpets (3.4 million dogs, two million cats and 260,000 rabbits) are fed treats every day.
“Sadly the UK’s pet population is suffering from an obesity epidemic,” says PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman.
“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 per cent, 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.”
The PDSA hopes their annual slimming contest will encourage owners to take a more responsible approach to looking after a pet.
Rebecca says: “Over the years PDSA Pet Fit Club has helped transform some of the UK’s fattest, unhealthiest pets into fit, healthy animals. Pets that 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