Throughout 2015 I've had the privilege of overseeing PDSA's Pet Fit Club, and last week we announced Kayla, a Bullmastiff from Glasgow, as the winner!
Just six months ago, Kayla was one of millions of UK pets who are overweight or obese. Pet obesity is something seen every day in veterinary practices across the country and our research shows around one in three dogs, and one in four cats are overweight.
Just like us, overweight pets are more likely to develop health complications such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, and ultimately, their life span is likely to be shortened. Weight related problems decrease the pet's quality of life and are very upsetting not only for owners, but also for us as vets, not least because obesity is usually preventable.
Prior to her weight loss Kayla would get breathless on short walks and was rarely exercised. Agnes, like many other dog owners, thought nothing of giving Kayla Sunday roast leftovers or fatty treats like biscuits. It was only following advice from our vets that she realised she was actually killing her dog with kindness.
During the six month diet and exercise programme she lost an incredible 2 stone 9lb (17kg) and the new slim-line Kayla is now bursting with energy. She can be regularly found playing with balloons in her garden and loves running around her local field.
Kayla's transformation is testament to the hard work and effort that Agnes has put in. She no longer hands out treats like they're sweeties and every meal that Kayla has is carefully weighed out beforehand.
Before and After: Kayla with her owner Agnes
If you're worried your pet might be overweight pop into your local vets as we're here to help. We can advise you on some simple changes that will make a big difference but my top tips are:
• Don't give in to begging puppy dog eyes and stop treating your pet. They'll enjoy a fuss or a fun game just as much
• Weigh out your pet food for the weight your pet should be
• Use interactive feeders and games to make your pet work a little for their food
• Speak to your vet, as you're much more likely to succeed with a weight loss plan as part of a team. We'll be here to advise, support and encourage you all the way
It may seem like a hard challenge but with the right level of commitment and will-power you will see some fantastic results.