Rejoice, fellow chonky cats and pups lovers – it’s the most wonderful time of the year.Yep, it’s time to meet the contestants in this year’s PDSA Pet Fit Club awards.
Overweight pets are invited to take part in the charity’s national slimming competition, all aimed at tackling an animal ‘obesity crisis’.
Over the course of six months, pets will be placed on a strict diet and exercise programme, with the pet losing the largest percentage of excess weight crowned Pet Fit Club champion.
Among the animals in the running is Sox, a cat more than double his recommended weight.Ten-year-old Sox, from Dundee, weighs in at 11kg, well above the ideal weight for a cat of 5kg. He’s so large he now struggles to climb up the stairs, so clearly needs to help to drop the excess pounds. Owner Stephanie Cowan adopted Sox from a rescue centre when he was just a few weeks old. Stephanie said: ‘Sox doesn’t have a massive appetite but his weight has gradually crept up over the years.
‘When you see them every day it’s difficult to notice when they’re getting bigger, but we know that he’s a lot slower and less energetic than he was this time last year.
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‘Sox is an indoor cat and doesn’t get out much, so he doesn’t get much exercise and I am concerned about his increasing weight‘We have another cat named Finn who has a massive appetite, but Finn weighs much less than Sox. I always measure their food portions out and try not to overfeed them, but I am worried and just want Sox to be healthy.
‘Sox is such a huge part of our family. He has helped my daughter through some very difficult times in her life and we would be lost without him. I want to help him lose weight so he can spend many more years enjoying life.’
Another contender is Jack Russell Skylar, who weighs 11.5kg.Skylar’s weight gain is down to his owner Mandy treating him to sausages, ham, cheese and crisps.
Mandy says: ‘Skylar eats absolutely everything, and it’s very difficult to say no when she gives you those puppy-dog eyes.‘I’m guilty of feeding her human foods, especially her favourite snacks like Doritos and Quavers – she loves them.
‘Every morning she’ll eat the crusts of my toast and, when I’m eating my dinner she sits there waiting for half of whatever I’m eating.’
Entries are still open for the Pet Fit Club, so if you have an overweight pet you can get support.
laidback pet breeds
PDSA hope the competition will raise awareness of the issues of pet obesity.Vet nurse Nina Downing says: ‘We know that we are a nation of animal lovers but unfortunately a lot of pet owners show their love and affection using food.
‘Most pets would be just as happy with extra attention, an extra walk or playtime, than food.
‘To a medium-sized dog, eating three cubes of cheese is like a person eating two chocolate bars.
‘They should be fed a complete pet food suitable for their age and weight, with only occasional healthy treats, such as a few slices of carrot for dogs and a small piece of white fish or meat for cats.
‘Pet obesity has been a huge problem in the UK for many years and sadly there is no sign of improvement, with nearly one in every two pets seen by vets and vet nurses overweight or obese.
‘This is a serious health issue, one of the biggest currently threatening pet wellbeing across the UK.
‘Pets who are overweight or obese are much more likely to develop health problems such as arthritis and diabetes. Being overweight can also seriously aggravate other health problems, such as heart disease.
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‘Prevention is always better than cure, but it is never too late to make a change.
‘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.’