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Hill's PetFit Slimmer of the Year 2009 - Australia
Hill's Prescription Diet and reality TV's 'The Biggest Loser' competition winner, Bob Herdsman, today announced the 2009 PetFit Slimmer of the Year amid new research that reveals that Australians are turning their pets into overweight couch potatoes. This year's 'Slimmer of the Year' is 13-year-old cattle dog Abby who lost a staggering 16.5kgs.
Abby's weight issue was initially brought to the attentions of her owner, Barbara Gibbs, when Abby was rejected for cruciate ligament (knee) surgery due to being overweight. Barbara says that she was shocked that 'puppy fat', was endangering her beloved Abby's life. "I thought it was cute that she was a bit roly poly but she just didn't seem very well. I took her to the vet and the vet told me that if I wanted Abby to get better, she needed to eat less and exercise."
"I'm just so relieved that I have done something and that I can now love her for longer. When I think about it, I shudder at the thought of her having to move around all that extra weight and the stress and strain that caused her. The next time you look at your pet and think she is cuddly or cute looking because of her overall condition, think again, you're probably looking at a very sick pet and there's nothing cute about that!"
The PetFit program was developed by Hill's Pet Nutrition to help overweight and obese pets. Because obesity is now the most common form of malnutrition in pets, Hill's has developed an online program to be used in conjunction with special food such as Hill's™ Prescription Diet™ brand pet food. The food is prescribed by a vet and the owner utilises the online PetFit tools with the support of local veterinary staff to provide weigh-ins and health checks.
Bob Herdsman says that exercising with your pet means that you can spend quality time together whilst losing weight — for both of you!
"Losing the weight on the show meant a lot of hard work and exercise but more than that, I had to learn how to eat and live in a way that wouldn't cut my life short," Herdsman said. "It's exactly the same for pets who have been unwittingly overfed. They demand food, want extra treats and don't want to do any exercise."
"It's a dog-eat-whatever-dogs-want world out there and just as we need to get out of our bad habits, they do too. There's no better way to do that than when your whole family is involved, including your pet."
The research shows there is a link between pet obesity and human's attitude towards their pets, with pet owners regarding their furry friend as a fellow human and not necessarily realising the harm that they cause their pets. Over half of pet owners admit to giving their pets human food, including leftovers that may contain garlic or onions which are toxic to dogs. Lack of awareness to how much their pet weighs was a concerning issue, with half of all pet owners not knowing how much their pet should weigh and one third admitting their pet probably is overweight as they have been told by a vet or suspected it themselves.
Hill's Pet Nutrition's Dr Alison Caiafa, says "The research shows us that people love their pets but it is not always in a healthy way. A very common way of showing affection to their pets is by giving frequent treats or people food. They don't realise that what may seem like an insignificant treat if eaten by a human is actually making a very significant contribution to their pet's total energy intake. Exercising with your pet is also a proven way to help owners lose weight and is a great opportunity to spend time together which can help with behavioural issues too."
"It's fine and well to see the lighter side of this but pet obesity is a serious animal health issue and we are literally killing our pets with food. Pet nutrition, exercise levels and behaviour management are things all pet owners should know and research tells us that this is just not the case. We need to get vets, vet nurses and owners talking together about pet health in a way that creates better outcomes for all involved."
This year's winner receives a $500 travel voucher and a year's supply of Hill's Pet Nutrition pet food (up to the value of $1,500). In a ceremony in her home town of Queensland, Ormeau, Abby says she feels grrrrrreat as she showed off her new toned physique. She no longer wolfs down meals, and thanks to her new personalised fitness program from Hill's PetFit she has a new leash on life.
Now in its 11th year, the annual PetFit Competition runs in conjunction with local veterinary clinics across Australia.
For more information visit petfit.hillspet.com.au.