Sunderland fat dog Fudge hopes to top challenge instead of the scales

PDSA Head Nurse Lindsay Atkinson with overweight Fudge, a Labrador cross.

PDSA Head Nurse Lindsay Atkinson with overweight Fudge, a Labrador cross.

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PRIZED plump pet Fudge hopes to gain an award by losing the pounds.

The Labrador-cross from Sunderland is among the first entries into the PDSA’s Pet Fit Club challenge, which will see him put on a tailored diet and exercise programme overseen by the charity.

It comes after its latest Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report found four out of five veterinary professionals have seen an increase in pet obesity cases in the last two years.

Obesity is the number one concern among vets when it comes to man’s best friend. But worryingly, nearly half of people surveyed are not aware it’s a major issue.

The PDSA says this is a huge concern, given that four out of five vets and vet nurses also believe there will be more overweight pets than healthy pets in five years time.

Although pet owners in the North East are not the worst offenders in the UK for feeding their animals fatty treats, according to the report, 61 per cent of pet owners in North England regularly feed their animals high calorie treats such as crisps, cake and takeaways, which is fuelling the pet obesity epidemic.

He loves to run around but his weight means he’s not as quick as he used to be.

Olwen Heslop, Fudge’s owner

Obesity can contribute to pets developing deadly conditions that can cut their lifespan, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as debilitating conditions including arthritis.

To help combat the pet obesity crisis has launched the competition and is inviting owners of the UK’s biggest pets to take part in the fat fighting contest.

Nicola Martin, PDSA head of pet health and welfare, said: “Over the past decade, Pet Fit Club has transformed the lives of some of the UK’s most obese pets.
“We have helped nearly 100 animals shed over 60 stone, so are welcoming entries again and offering our expertise.”

Early entrants to this year’s competition include Fudge, a Labrador crossbreed, from Sunderland, who is 45 per cent overweight.

The a nine-year-old Labrador was a 60th birthday present for owner, Olwen Heslop.

He has been a bit of a yo-yo dieter over the years, but one thing that doesn’t diminish is his love of food, he will eat anything apart from lettuce.

The last few years however, middle age spread has set in.

He is now almost 50 per cent heavier than he should be – tipping the scales at a whopping 58kg, thanks to his mastering of the puppy-dog eyes trick.

Mrs Heslop said: “He’s such a lovable dog.

“I want him to live for as long as possible and I don’t want him to suffer with any of the health issues that come with being overweight.

“He loves to run around but his weight means he’s not as quick as he used to be.