A podgy rat from Port Talbot and a fat Labrador from Cardiff will battle it out in a national pet slimming competition run by vet charity PDSA.
Spider the rat and Duke the golden Labrador will compete alongside 17 pets to take part in Pet Fit Club 2015, and the pair are among the fattest in the competition campaigning to fight pet obesity.
Spider has been described by his owners as “more of a bloodhound”, and weighs in at a kilogram.
Owner Jan Burton said: “We called him Spider because when we first put him in his cage he ran straight to the top and hung in the corner, like a spider would.
“Now he has just ballooned and gets stuck in his igloo. We think of him as a gentle giant as he’s very placid and is only dominant when it comes to food.”
According to his owners, Spider used to be the smallest of a collection of seven rats, but he has let himself go in recent years.
They added: “He charges you if you try to give the treat to one of the other rats. One of my rats is a hoarder but Spider will find anything that he’s hidden.”
Cause of dog’s obesity is ‘quite simple’
Duke, from St Mellons, is more than double the ideal weight of a Labrador, weighing in at 60kg, over nine stone, meaning he is 118 per cent overweight.
And Clint Attard, whose parents own Duke, says the cause for the dog’s obesity is quite simple.
He said: “My parents feel sorry for him, they think because he begs for food he’s still hungry, so they give him more food.
“Plus, my mum is disabled so can’t take him out that much. I’ve tried to tell them that he doesn’t need that much food but it’s no use.”
He added: “It’s hurtful to see Duke so overweight. He’s just over two years old but people think he looks about seven.”
The competition, which started last week, will see the pets follow new diet and exercise programmes at their respective Cardiff and Swansea PDSA Pet Hospitals, with the Cardiff branch based on Nettleford Road.
Competing against Duke and Spider are Hooch the humongous Rottweiler, Grace the rotund rabbit and Boycus the fat cat among others.
The Pet Fit Club champion’s owner will win a “pet-friendly” break, while the winning cat, dog and rabbit will be given a year’s free pet food.
Vet Nurse, Karen Jones from Cardiff PDSA Pet Hospital, said: “Pet obesity levels are on the rise and it’s really important to tackle this issue head-on. PDSA research has found that four-out-of-five vet professionals have seen an increase in pet obesity cases in the last two years.
Ms Jones said anyone concerned about their pets’ weight should speak to their veterinary practice, which can provide expert advice.