A big effort from a fussy little southern dog called Pepsi has gained her the title of Hill’s Pet Slimmer of the Year 2008 and a year’s worth of Hill’s weight maintenance food plus other prizes.
The formerly over-fed Jack Russell lost fifty percent of her body weight over a period of eight months. Pepsi weighed in at a staggering 13.1kg when she started the programme and now weighs a healthy 6.5kg.
Pepsi’s Pet Slimmer programme consisted of a lifestyle change including an exercise regime, feeding Hill’s Prescription Diet food to reduce her calorie intake, and regular weigh ins.
Pepsi’s devoted owners, Colleen and Arthur Linnell, said when they got Pepsi from the SPCA she was so overweight she could hardly walk. And because she had been fed a lot of human food she was finicky with dog food and often refused to eat.
“She had belonged to an elderly lady who had moved in to care. Pepsi couldn’t scratch herself or do any of those normal ‘doggy’ things. She didn’t like dog food of any sort and we ended up feeding her with a spoon, one piece of kibble at a time – about the size of a Jaffa,” said Mrs Linnell.
Like many domestic dogs and cats, Pepsi’s pre-competition diet included supplements of treats and left-over table scraps.
Hill’s veterinarian advisor for Australasia Dr Karen Johnston says owners’ over-generosity with food is common and can have harmful implications for pets.
“The best way to spoil a pet is with affection—not tidbits – because shortened life expectancy, arthritis, heart and respiratory problems, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and pancreatitis are all associated with increased weight,” she says.
Mrs Linnell says since Pepsi’s lost weight, she eats healthily and looks so slim.
“She’s full of life and loves her food. We walk heaps and have lots of fun. The only downside is she can now escape through very small spaces, which keeps us on our toes.”
Pepsi’s vet, Marcus Wells at Vets @ St Clair, describes Pepsi’s results as “amazing” having lost half her body weight. He advises all pet owners with overweight pets that they need to understand they aren’t starving their pets when putting them on a controlled diet.
“People get an immense amount of pleasure from seeing their pets eat, but that’s got to change when they need to lose weight. Many pet owners aren’t happy to see pets hungry and it can be a challenge to withhold food, especially when the pet’s smooching or dribbling on their feet while they’re in the kitchen preparing food. However, it’s biologically sound for dogs to be hungry – hunger provides motivation to find food and, unlike a domesticated dog, finding food can be very hard work in the wild. This means pet dogs generally get hungry a little earlier than necessary,” says Mr Wells.
Fifty-two dogs and cats entered the annual competition supported by seventeen veterinary clinics throughout New Zealand where healthy weight targets were set, their food intake was monitored and they were assessed throughout the programme on whether feeding or exercising plans needed adjusting.
Runner up Pet Slimmer of the Year was awarded to ‘Poppy’ of Invercargill, a slimmed down Boxer who lost almost 40 percent of her bodyweight. Not far behind was third-place winner ‘CJ’ from Dannevirke, a Labrador who lost 38 percent of her bodyweight.
Prizes for Poppy’s owner, Patricia Cahill, and CJ’s owner, John Rowe, included a collection of bowls, treats, Hill’s weight maintenance food, slippers, Christmas toys, rugs, frisbees and beanies.
The veterinary clinic where Pepsi was weighed in, Vets @ St Clair of Dunedin won a $700 of gift vouchers of their own choosing. There was also a $500 gift voucher prize for the veterinary clinic with the most entries which was awarded to Totally Vets of Fielding for a whopping 17 entries.
About Hill’s Pet Nutrition
Hill’s Pet Nutrition manufactures Science Diet brand pet foods sold through veterinarians, SPCA and pet specialty food stores, and Prescription Diet therapeutic brand pet foods available only through veterinarians. Founded more than 60 years ago by one veterinarian’s unique commitment to pet nutrition and wellbeing, Hill’s follows its mission to help enrich and lengthen the special relationships between people and their pets by producing high quality, great tasting pet food. Explore www.hillspet.co.nz for more information.