Hooch, an 11-year-old Rottweiler from Hull, tips the scales at nearly 13 stone, making him the biggest pet to have taken part in the Pet Fit Club’s 10-year-history.
His owner Leslie McCormack rescued Hooch several years ago, and has already managed to help him shed some weight.
Leslie said: “Hooch was mistreated before so he’s a bit wary of strangers. He used to eat five tins of dog food a day but I’ve cut him down to one. He’s already lost so much weight but I want him to be healthy and happy and to live as long as he can.”
Run by vet charity PDSA, this year’s competition sees 17 pets - carrying a total of 32 stone in excess weight - taking part in the six-month diet and exercise programme at their local PDSA pet hospitals.
Alongside Hooch is “kitchen-raiding” springer spaniel Poppy, whose owners have had to put locks on their fridge to stop her stealing snacks.
Speaking of the 4st 12lbs pup, Sue Blackhurst, from Liverpool, said: “Poppy is a lovely dog but she’s very mischievous. She steals my rollers and just loves to play but also fights our birds for their bread and tries to open the fridge to steal food - so we’ve put child locks on.”
Greedy Guy, from Leicester, is one of the fattest cats to take part in Pet Fit Club. At 1st 10lbs, he is 116% overweight.
The eight-year-old lives with his owner Angie Barcock on a main road so is kept indoors, but his habit of pinching his companions’ dinners together with his dislike for exercise have caused him to balloon to more than double the size he should be.
And pug Rolo, who was adopted by his new owners at the end of 2014, currently weights 2st 1lb but should be about 1st 6lb.
Owner Lydia Ernstsons, from Epsom, Surrey, said: “He has a habit of chasing people carrying shopping bags of food and has even been known to follow complete strangers into their home.
“His favourite trick is to pull at the tablecloth until any food on the table falls to the floor, and just last weekend he jumped into the pond after food that was thrown for the ducks.”
PDSA Pet Fit Club has already helped 63 dogs, 26 cats and six rabbits lose a total of 60 stone 6lb since 2005. Last year’s winner, a bulldog named Daisy, dropped 8kg, a quarter of her bodyweight.
Nicola Martin, PDSA head of pet health and welfare, said: “Just as human waistlines are expanding, sadly our pets are facing a similar fate too.
“When considering how much to feed their pets, many owners still rely on ‘common sense’ or past experience to make a decision, rather than looking at the weight and body shape of their pet and using packet guidelines.
“With millions of pets receiving unhealthy treats such as crisps, cake and cheese as part of their daily diet, and millions more not getting enough exercise, it is clear that the serious issue of obesity in our pet nation is only going to get worse.
“However, it’s important to remember that it’s never too late to make a positive change. All the pets taking part in Pet Fit Club this year are taking the first step towards a longer, healthier life.”
For more information about the pet finalists, visit www.petfitclub.org.uk