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Supersized to super slim
Ruby with Head Nurse Lindsay Atkinson before her diet, and how she looks now
A formerly roly-poly rescue dog, Jack Russell Terrier Ruby, has been named the UK’s pet slimming champion of 2013 after losing one third of her bodyweight.
The now perfectly-formed pooch, was one of 16 obese pets chosen to embark on the six month diet and fitness regime run by leading vet charity, PDSA. In total, the pets have lost a combined weight of 57kg (8 stone 9 pounds) – roughly equivalent to 900 mince pies, 125 Christmas puddings or 14 turkeys*.
When PDSA Pet Fit Club began in May, five-year-old Ruby, from Sunderland, tipped the scales at 9.1kg (1stone 6lbs), making her morbidly obese and more than 50% overweight. Six months on she is now a far healthier 6.2kg (just under a stone), and just a whisker away from her ideal weight of 6kg. She also shed a staggering 17cm (7inches) from her waist and 10cm (4inches) from her chest.
Ruby’s waistline started to creep up after she was adopted by owner Angela Martin (40) four years ago. Underweight and unloved, she had been found roaming the streets and was taken into a local animal shelter, from where the Martin family took her in. They welcomed Ruby into their home and lavished attention – and treats – on her, admitting they ‘spoilt her rotten’. But over time, all the snacks and titbits – including a curry she once pinched – led to unhealthy weight gain.
Before the competition, Ruby would spend most of the day asleep and any thought of ‘walkies’ was a big effort, which often left her out of breath, according to Angela: “It got to the stage where she couldn’t jump on the sofa or the bed. The only thing she would move for was the sound of the treat jar opening.
“When Ruby first came to us, we all felt really sorry for her as she’d had such a tough start to life. So to compensate, we used to give her a little treat here and there. The trouble was, the whole family was giving her ‘a little treat’ and over time, she started to get really big.“
But this has all changed thanks to Pet Fit Club, said Angela: “The difference in her since losing weight is amazing. She is like a completely different dog – so much happier and with loads more energy. We are absolutely delighted with the results and can’t thank PDSA enough for helping Ruby to slim down. Winning the competition is wonderful, but the real prize is seeing Ruby enjoying a new lease of life tearing around the garden and playing with her toys.”
PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury, added: “This is a fantastic slimming success story – well done Ruby! Many people fall into the trap of overindulging their pet with food as a way of expressing their love.
"Angela and her family have worked really hard and have shown that it’s never too late to make a positive change. With help from PDSA and lots of determination they have completely changed Ruby’s life. The weight loss means she will feel much fitter and happier, and her life expectancy is likely to be longer now than she has shed the excess weight.”
Ruby’s remarkable achievement saw her beat off heavyweight competition from other overweight pets across the UK. They are all enjoying significant benefits to their health and wellbeing, thanks to losing weight.
Elaine concludes: “I would encourage any owner who has concerns about their own pet’s weight to discuss it with their vet. We are there to help and can provide plenty of guidance on the type and amount of food and how much exercise your pet needs to stay in shape.”
Other top pet slimmers this year are:
Edinburgh pooch TJ, started the competition weighing in at 5st 5lbs (34kg) which made her around 70% overweight. The seriously overweight Staffordshire Bull Terrier with a dangerous taste for chocolate, lost almost a quarter (23%) of her bodyweight in just six months after taking part in PDSA Pet Fit Club. Owner Katy Visentin (64) said: “Before losing the weight, TJ used to struggle to exercise and she even refused to go for a walk. Now, the spring is back in her step and she even takes 500ft hill climbs in her stride!”
She is now a much slimmer 4st 2lb (26kg) after shedding almost 18 lbs (8kg). PDSA vets say the weight- loss, which has seen TJ lose a colossal 14cm (5.5inches) of flab from her waist, will also help ease her arthritis.
This ex-chubby Cocker Spaniel from Glasgow, has lost more than 20% of her bodyweight. Nyah weighed a whopping 4st 8lbs (over 29kg) when she began the six-month PDSA diet and fitness programme back in May, making her nearly 60% overweight. She is now a much slimmer 3st 6lbs (22.9kg) after shedding just under a stone (6.3kg).
Owner, Catherine Jeng, 69, is delighted at how well her beloved pet Nyah has done: “She lost a whopping 15cm (6 inches) from her waist alone. We followed the diet and exercise plan closely and in addition to feeding Nyah her special diet food, we swapped unhealthy treats for small amounts of raw vegetables if Nyah was feeling extra peckish.”
Seven-year-old Spaniel/Collie cross Oscar, from Sunderland, weighed in at 5 stone 2lbs (33kg) before Pet Fit Club, weighing almost a third more than a healthy dog of his type. He’s gone on to shed 20% of his bodyweight – but his weight loss has also helped to save his life. After dropping over a stone (6.6kg), a routine vet check discovered a worrying lump on his side. A major operation followed to remove his spleen and he’s since gone on to make a full recovery.
“Without shedding the pounds, the lump would never have been picked up, and could have turned into something nasty, so we are eternally grateful to PDSA,” said his owner Tanya Burrell (48). “Oscar is now living life to the full and is happier and healthier than ever. “
Mega moggy, Cookie, from Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, has almost done a vanishing act, shedding an impressive 17cm from her waist after taking part in PDSA Pet Fit Club.
Cookie weighed in at a staggering 1stone 5 pounds (8.4kg) back in May, making her around 90% overweight. She is now a much trimmer 1stone 2lbs (7.3kg) after dropping over 1kg (2.2lbs), equivalent to 13% of her body weight. But the biggest difference has been to her body shape – she has also lost a phenomenal 17cm from her chest. Cookie still has more weight to lose to reach her ideal weight, so will be continuing with the diet until she reaches her target.
Find out how all of this year’s pet slimmers got on and register your interest for the 2014 competition at www.pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub or follow #petfitclub on Twitter.
Killing our pets with kindness – the facts:
Findings from the annual PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report*** has revealed that:
•More than 18 million pets**** are being fed deadly diets, putting them at risk of a miserable life and an early grave. If coupled with little or no exercise, their life-spans are often cut short by preventable, obesity-related conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
•13.5 million UK pets are regularly receiving fatty and sugary treats such as takeaways, crisps and cakes.
•48% of owners are motivated to feed treats because of the short-term happiness it appears to bring to their animal companions.
•29% of owners feed treats because it makes them feel happy.
•61% of pet owners think severely overweight pets should be removed from an owner who persistently ignores veterinary advice.
For more information about pet obesity and for advice about how to assess a healthy body shape for pets, please visit www.pdsa.org.uk/obesity.
Ruby’s owners have won a pet-friendly holiday from cottages4you** as well as a year’s free supply of Hills Metabolic pet food, to help keep Ruby at her ideal weight.
*Based on 1 mince pie weighing 63g, a Christmas pudding weighing 454g and a turkey weighing 4kg
**The diets for the Pet Fit Club finalists were kindly sponsored by Hills and Burgess Excel. The winning cat also won a year's free food from Hills and the winning rabbit has won a year's free Burgess Excel food. The overall Pet Fit Club champ’s owner won a pet-friendly break with cottages4you, kindly sponsored by Hills and cottages4you.
*** The PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report: Survey of 3,956 dog, cat and rabbit owners, 466 Vets and Vet nurses, and 553 children was conducted online between 10th March & 23rd May 2012 through the YouGov panel. Data is weighted to be representative of dog, cat and rabbit owners in the UK.
****Figures calculated using estimated populations; 8,308,605 dogs, 11,015,362 cats and 1,668,818 rabbits