1. ITV Report

Overweight pets weigh in for slimming contest

Head nurse Lindsay Atkinson struggles to hold Pet Fit Club finalist Ruby. Photo: Ian McClelland/PA Wire

Dogs, cats and rabbits losing the battle of the bulge have been signed up to a weight-loss club in a effort to shift the extra pounds.

A total of 13 pets are to take part in a six-month diet and exercise programme, as part of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals' (PDSA) 'Pet Fit Club'.

Bullmastiff Mizzy, from Derby, tips the scales at 11 stone 4lbs. Credit: Paul Spike Reddington/PA Wire

The gargantuan group - that collectively weighs around 30 stone - includes hefty hound Mizzy, the Bullmastiff, and flabby feline, Ulric - the two biggest-ever finalists in the competition which has been running for almost 10 years. Their combined weight is 13 stone 4lbs.

Tom cat Ulric, from Dorset, weighs in at two stone - 111 percent over his ideal weight, and Mizzy, from Derby, tips the scales at 11 stone 4lbs, making her around 60 percent overweight.

Ulric who weighs in at 12.65kg has been signed up to the pet fit club. Credit: PDSA/PA Wire

Other pets battling the bulge include sweet-and-sour-chicken-loving Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Beetlejuice, (seven stone and 48 percent overweight) from London, Labrador Tia, from Birmingham, who weighs over nine stone (94 percent overweight), and ice-cream-loving tom cat Prince, who is 44 percent overweight, weighing 1st 2lbs.

Tia, from Halesowen, who weighs in at 9st 2lb Credit: Jonathan Hipkiss/PA Wire

The pets are all competing for the title of PDSA Pet Fit Club slimmer of the year, and they all fall into the category of obese or morbidly obese.

Dog Toby currently tips the scales at 40kg. Credit: Darren Casey/PA Wire

Obesity is one of the biggest welfare issues affecting pets in the UK today - and it is entirely preventable.

Sadly, it also means daily misery for millions of pets who are feeling the strain from carrying too much weight.

The owners of the pets in this year's competition are taking the vital first step towards a healthy new future for their animals.

This helps reduce the likelihood of an early grave due to obesity and its related health issues. The good news is that it's never too late to make a positive change to improve a pet's quality of life.

– PDSA senior veterinary surgeon Elaine Pendlebury