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Charity Reveals Top Dog Weight Loss Tips

Vet charity PDSA has today revealed the 11 supersized pets set to undergo a major transformation as they embark on the charity’s annual slimming competition – PDSA Pet Fit Club.


The overweight finalists, comprising five ‘huge hounds’ and six ‘mega moggies’, have been put on a strict diet and exercise plan by the charity’s vets to help them slim down to a healthier weight and improve their life expectancy. 

The combined total of this year’s finalists excess weight amounts to nearly 87kg which equates to the weight of 290 tins of pet food, 19 average sized cats or 6 medium sized dogs*. 


PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury, said: “Overweight pets are less mobile, less willing to play and more likely to develop a number of serious health conditions and have a reduced life expectancy. The good news is it’s never too late to achieve positive change with the help of your veterinary practice.” 

Pet obesity revealed:
Over the last four years, PDSA has assessed the weight and general health of nearly 25,000 dogs across the UK. Over that time, the percentage of overweight dogs seen has risen from around one-in five (21%) to more than one-in-three (35%). Cats don’t fare much better either with current PDSA statistics showing that around one-in-four are overweight. Obesity in pets not only means a reduced quality of life but a lower life expectancy due to obesity-related health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Frequent video based veterinary visits of your pet should tell you that. 

Pets carrying 20% or more of their ideal body weight are classed as obese, while pets carrying over 50% are deemed morbidly obese. 

The heavyweight finalists:
Diabetic Ginger tom cat, Percy (10) from London is currently 9.85kg which makes him 97% overweight when he should be nearer 5kg. Owner, Rebecca Hougham (29), re-homed the already-overweight Percy around 18 months ago and has been battling to help her beloved cat slim down ever since. She says: “We really want him to lose weight so that he lives a long and healthy life but we need PDSA’s help as we have been trying and nothing seems to be working.” 

Black and white cat, Badger (8), from Edinburgh is 74% overweight with the scales currently showing 8.7kg when they should be nearer 5kg. Owner David Louden (45) and his family, who have had Badger since he was a kitten, really noticed just how large he had become when he stood alongside the family’s other two ‘normal sized’ cats and the difference in size was clear to see. Badger’s favourite foods include Chinese take-away and fish and chips but he’s never turned his nose up at anything. 

Black and white cat, Pie (10) from Nantwich, Cheshire is so big that he once got stuck under a fence. He is carrying 87% extra weight than he should be with the scales currently showing 8.4kg when they should be nearer 4.5kg. Pie, (named after a mince pie) has a slim sister called Pudding, (full name Christmas Pudding), and was nominated for the fat fighting competition by his owner Brenda Sandland (55). 

Rottweiler, Maddison (8) from Thurstaston, Wirral, is around 24% overweight. She was adopted from a rescue centre earlier this year by new owner, Bobbie Rhys-Chadwick (38). At her heaviest she tipped the scales at 58kg but currently weighs 52.2kg but should be nearer 42kg. Bobbie says: “She’s a really friendly dog who loves meeting new people, but it’s so sad to watch her waddle around the garden. We don’t know much about Maddison’s past, but her weight might be the reason she was abandoned. Bobbie adopted Maddison in July after seeing a video of her struggling to walk on a local animal rescue centre’s website. 

Black and white cat, Tigger (10+) from Middleton in Manchester, is around 80% overweight with the scales currently showing just over 8kg when they should be around 4.5kg. Owner, Debbie Bagshaw (47) re-homed the former stray-cat eight-years-ago after finding her underweight with a terrible flea and tick infestation.
Debbie says: “When we first took her in she was skin and bone, so we gave her extra portions to feed her up and we just never stopped. Before we put her on a diet she was getting six packets of food a day as well as cat biscuits which we know now was far too much.” 

Cocker Spaniel, Ellie (9) from Edinburgh is carrying 69% extra weight with the scales currently showing 23.6kg when they should be nearer 14kg. Owner Angie Stevens (46) first brought Ellie home as a tiny puppy, but years of too many titbits have finally taken their toll. “We’re guilty of overfeeding her,” admits Angie. “We’ve always followed the feeding guidelines on her food, but we’ve never accounted for all of the extra treats and titbits she was getting as well. She will literally eat anything – chicken, cakes and biscuits are her favourites – and she would always end up finishing our meals. We simply couldn’t resist her sad eyes.” 

Labrador, Lucky (4) from Pontypridd, South Wales is 46% overweight with the scales currently showing 51.2kg when they should be nearer 35kg. Owner, Alyson King (49) is determined to help her podgy pooch slim down and live a healthier life. She says: “I have tried really hard dieting Lucky. I walk him twice a day but to my sadness his weight is not going down. He does have the odd biscuit treat and especially likes roast chicken on a Sunday. I’m also on a diet myself, so I’m hoping we’ll spur each other on. I have already lost two-and-a-half stone and feel wonderful for it. I now want Lucky to slim down too, so the challenge is on! Making him healthier and slimmer is my ultimate goal.” 

Black and white cat Socks (5), from Houghton le Spring, Tyne and Wear. Socks is 48% overweight weight with the scales currently showing 8.15kg when they should be nearer 5.5kg. Owner, Jenna Greenwell (30), re-homed Socks and his brother three years ago. Jenna says Socks has always been a large cat but has been getting bigger over the last few years. “I feed the cats separately so he doesn’t eat everything himself, but nothing seems to work. We’ve never given him treats, but he’ll hunt down anything the children drop on the floor and will sit at their feet begging like a dog. He is so big now he can hardly jump onto the windowsill where he likes to sit and watch the world go by!” 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Max (2) from North End, Portsmouth is more than double the size he should be, at around 124% overweight. The scales currently show 20.2kg when they should be nearer 9kg. Owner, Michael Stapleton (41) says: “Max deserves his place in PDSA Pet Fit Club because he is a lovely, playful dog. His weight has gradually crept on over the last few years, probably caused by all the leftovers and treats he is given. We knew he was carrying a few extra pounds, but were shocked when PDSA told us just how overweight he is. 

Rottweiler, Holly (7) from Monk Bretton, Barnsley tips the scales at 52.5kg making her 50% overweight. She should be nearer 35kg. Owner, Pamela Rymer, says: “We’ve had Holly since she was a tiny puppy and absolutely adore her. We are guilty of spoiling her and didn’t realise how overweight she was until the vet told us. She loves her food and used to eat the leftovers from our dinner – she never turns her nose up at anything. But we’ve stopped that now and won’t be giving in to her begging eyes.” 

White cat, Lady (6) from Maidstone, Kent, is 65% overweight with the scales currently showing 8.3kg when they should be nearer 5kg. Owner Louise Lane says: “Lady had skin cancer earlier this year and had to have the tips of her ears removed, so I think we’ve compensated for that by spoiling her. On top of her normal cat food she used to get bowls of milk or cream every day and scraps of meat that we didn’t finish – including ‘cat bags’ that I’d bring home from restaurants for her. She also has a very sweet tooth and loves chocolate and ice cream.” 

PDSA Pet Fit Club is backed by one of the country’s leading animal obesity specialists, Dr Alex German, from the University of Liverpool Veterinary School. He said: “PDSA is doing great work in highlighting this important animal welfare issue via its slimming competition. It’s vital that owners recognise their pet’s weight problem, seek veterinary advice and do something about it. 

“PDSA is putting the spotlight on the pet obesity epidemic and offering practical help to improve the quality of life of the participating pets. Previous years’ finalists have achieved fantastic results and similar success this year will once again provide real-life demonstrations to pet-owners of what can be achieved with commitment and veterinary assistance.” 

Elaine adds: “Ultimately, owners control their pet’s diet and exercise. We know from our work with pet-owners that many view an overweight pet as cute and cuddly. What they don’t see is the threat that obesity poses to their beloved animals’ health and lifespan.” 

The diets for all of the finalists are being supplied by Hills pet food. The overall winner of the competition will receive a pet-friendly holiday with Cottages4you worth £300. 

PDSA’s pet obesity advice clinic – top tips: 

• Prevention is better than cure: Preventing obesity is much easier than getting a pet to lose weight. A good diet when a pet is young is essential – fat puppies and kittens are more likely to become fat adults pets due to the number of fat cells they produce during growth.
• Watch out for the treats: feeding a pet even a small treat can significantly increase their daily calorie intake. If you give your pet a treat, perhaps for training purposes, reduce the amount given in their main meal on that day.
• Balanced diet and regular exercise: Weight loss requires a combination of the right diet and the right amount of exercise, so discuss an exercise programme for your pet with your vet. Build up exercise gradually, as a pet shouldn’t go from couch potato to marathon runner overnight.
• Seek veterinary advice: PDSA advises pet owners to speak to their vet about the right shape for their pet. A pet’s shape gives a good indication of the amount of body fat the pet is storing. According to vets, many owners don’t know what a healthy shape is for their pet. Some owners are worried about seeking advice for their overweight pet for fear of being prosecuted. However, cases of prosecution for pet obesity are very rare and are usually a result of owners habitually ignoring advice from their vet over a period of time.
• Learn about a pet’s healthy shape : PDSA offers owners advice and guidance on a correct body shape for their pet at
• Follow veterinary advice and guidance: In some pets, such as cats and rabbits, weight loss must be very gradual and supervised by a vet. If these pets lose weight too quickly, it can be fatal.

My name is Jasmine Kleine. I am a qualified vet nurse and a passionate animal advocate. I write professionally about pets and animal health.

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