Help your pet fight the flab

Help your pet fight the flab

Vet charity PDSA has launched its annual pet slimming competition, Pet Fit Club, and is searching for the UK’s fattest pets.

Up to 20 overweight dogs, cats, rabbits and rats from across the UK will be chosen to take part in the slimming programme.

Participating animals are placed on a six-month diet and exercise programme, individually tailored to their needs and overseen by vets and vet nurses at their local PDSA Pet Hospital.

Owners are given free diet pet food for the duration of the competition, and the overall Pet Fit Club Champ, crowned at the end of 2020, will win a year’s free pet food and a pet-friendly holiday.

Since 2005 Pet Fit Club has helped 89 dogs, 44 cats, eight rabbits and two rats lose a combined 513kg (80st 12lb) — equivalent to the weight of a polar bear!

“Pets who are overweight or obese are much more likely to develop health problems such as arthritis and diabetes,” said PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing.

“Being overweight can also seriously aggravate other health problems, such as heart disease. For example, Pugs and French Bulldogs already struggle to breathe because of their flat faces, but carrying excess inches can make this much worse.

“Research has also shown that carrying too much weight can reduce a dog’s life expectancy by up to two years and six months.”

Around 46% of dogs, 34% of cats and 30% of rabbits in the UK are thought to be overweight or obese.

Downing went on to explain that many pet owners show their love and affection using food, but most pets would be just as happy with extra attention — such as an extra walk or playtime — rather than food.

“Prevention is always better than cure, but it is never too late to make a change,” Downing added. “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 lives.”

Owners can find out more about Pet Fit Club and apply online at pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub. The closing date is Sunday 8 March 2020.

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