A porky pooch from South Yorkshire who tips the scales at 5st 8lb is to represent the county in a slimming competition for pets.
Colossal canine Diesel from Rotherham, who is 1st 9lbs overweight, has reached the finals of the UK’s largest pet slimming competition – PDSA Pet Fit Club.
The ten-year-old Staffie has been selected to compete against six other fat pets from across the UK, including dogs, cats and even a giant rabbit.
Together they weigh 18st 7lb (118kg) – more than heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (113kg) - and need to lose nearly seven stones between them.
Weighing in at a whopping 5st 8 lbs, Diesel has eaten and snoozed his way to become 42% overweight. He needs to lose around 1st 9lb to get to his ideal weight.
Diesel’s owner, Teresa Gash, 42, says he hasn’t always been so obese, but his love of food and reluctance for exercise has meant the pounds have piled on gradually over the years.
She said: “Diesel likes to lie on the sofa.
"We’ll go on a walk and after five minutes he just wants to plonk himself down!
"We’ve got another dog, Lexi, and she’s full of energy, but Diesel likes his creature comforts and much prefers sleeping to walking,” said Teresa.
“I’ve also been in and out of hospital for the past two years so he’s not had as many walks as he should.”
She added: “I’ve been trying to cut down his portions but he eats anything he can get his paws on and much prefers our food. The grandkids will give him bits off their plates, his favourites are chips, pizza and veg. He even tries to pinch chocolate, so we have to be really careful to keep that out of reach.”
Teresa knows that Diesel needs to lose weight for the sake of his health.
She said: “He’s a much-loved member of our family and we want to have him around for a long time, but with his weight this high we're afraid he won’t be.
"We need to get him fit and healthy again. I know it’s not good for him to be this size. His mum lived until she was 16 and I want Diesel to be the same.
"I’m hoping Pet Fit Club will improve Diesel’s health and wellbeing.”
Diesel’s six-month Pet Fit Club diet and exercise programme will be specially tailored and overseen by the vets and nurses at Sheffield PDSA Pet Hospital.
Louise Rogers, PDSA Head Nurse who will be helping to oversee Diesel’s diet, said: “Pet obesity is a growing issue that affects millions of UK pets.
"Carrying excess weight can have serious health risks and increase the chances of pets suffering from life-limiting and life-threatening conditions including arthritis, diabetes and heart diseases.”
“With the help of PDSA Pet Fit Club, Teresa is making the necessary lifestyle changes to help get Diesel down to a healthier weight. We will support them every step of the way over the next six months to ensure they succeed.
“If owners are unsure what to feed their pets, how much to feed or exercise, or are simply concerned about their weight, they should always seek advice from their vet.”
Pet Fit Club is a six-month diet and exercise programme, tailored and overseen by expert PDSA vets and nurses. Diesel will be competing against two dogs, three cats and a rabbit, including Milo the cat from Margate who is nearly double his ideal weight tipping the scales at a whopping 1st 12lb (11.8kg). Also taking part is giant rabbit Lola from Derby who weighs 1st 2lb (7.4kg) making her nearly 40% overweight.
PDSA Pet Fit Club was launched in 2005 and has already helped 78 dogs, 34 cats and 7 rabbits lose a total 68 stone 9lb - equivalent to a grand piano or 192 Chihuahuas.
To help them with their weight loss plan, Pet Fit Club participants will receive free diet pet food for the duration of the competition, courtesy of Dechra. The overall Pet Fit Club Champ, who will be crowned at the end of 2017, will win a year’s free supply of Dechra pet food and a £250 voucher for a pet friendly holiday courtesy of Sykes Cottages.