Hector van Schalkwyk, a once rather rotund Rottweiler from Pretoria, takes the title as South Africa’s 2013 Hill’s Pet Slimmer of the Year, having shed an incredible 25kgs on a veterinary-supervised weight management programme.
Former heavyweight Hector wins 2013 Hill’s Pet Slimmer of the Year
Hector (now four years old in 2013) was one of ten finalists in the annual competition; the public could vote for their favourites based on their before and after photos and weight-loss stories. The five with the most votes at midday on 22 October were the winners and each received a R5 000 cash prize. Hector, as top dog, has the honour of becoming the 2013 Hill’s Pet Slimmer of the Year and a member of the Hill’s Pet Slimmer Hall of Fame.
The best reward of all, however, is a happier, healthier and longer life. Research has shown that dogs at their optimum weight live longer (by at least two years1) and they are happier; obese dogs that lost weight were shown to have more vitality, less “emotional disturbance” and pain2. “Besides being miserable fat cats and dogs are at an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Rather than thinking you’re demonstrating how much you love your pet, when you over-feed or indulge them, you may actually be shortening their life,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor to Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
In Hector’s case the proof is in the pudding and his story backs up the research. When his owners Fanie and Elize van Schalkwyk consulted the vet for his skin irritation, Hector weighed in at a massive 83kgs. He was grumpy, aggressive and was suffering from itchy, dry skin. The vet recommended Hector shed some extra weight and put him into the capable care of veterinary nurse Sister Cindy du Preez. Persuading Fanie and Elize to put Hector onto a scale was initially a challenge, as they took some convincing as to the need for a weight-loss programme for their pet.
“We were initially sceptical, but this was definitely a worthwhile process. As he lost weight there was a change in Hector's behaviour. His happiness, the new found energy as well as the prospect of a long life with us, has been an unexpected reward. We recommend this weight management programme to any owner of an overweight animal as we have learned that an overweight dog, is not necessarily a happy dog,” said Elize van Schalkwyk.
Fanie says that although they never fed Hector table food or sweet treats he had gradually picked up weight over the years. Prior to going on Hill’s Prescription Diet for obese dogs Hector was eating dog food and the occasional dog biscuit.
Hector’s veterinary practice, Bakenkop Animal Clinic, is one of 350 veterinary clinics in South Africa and Namibia that runs the pet slimmer programme. Interestingly eight of the ten finalists in this year’s competition hail from Tshwane and all five winners are pampered Pretoria pets. The five winners are:
The 2013 Runner Up winners:
2nd Felix Botha, a Dachshund from Centurion, Pretoria lost 5.3kg (41% of his bodyweight) under the care of Zwartkop Animal Clinic. Felix went from dragging his tummy on the ground to bouncing about with his brother Triton.
3rd Benji Bekker, a yellow Labrador from Centurion, Pretoria lost 11.5kgs (23% of his bodyweight) and 22 cm from around his waist under the care of Bakenkop Animal Clinic.
4th Timmy Grove, a cat from Constantia Park, Pretoria, lost 1.1kgs (17% of his bodyweight) under the care of Rietvallei Animal Clinic. Timmy used to enjoy meals and treats with his owner but is happier, healthy and more active since losing weight.
5th Max Versfeld, a three-legged Labrador from Waverley in Pretoria, lost 8.4kgs (20% of his bodyweight) at Frystraat Animal Hospital. After being hit by a car and injuring his leg Max’s original owners no longer wanted him. He was adopted by the Versfeld family who showed how much he was loved with food and treats until they realised his ballooning weight was becoming a serious problem.
Is your pet a healthy size? www.petslimmer.co.za has tools to calculate ideal weight, loads of nutritional advice and a list of veterinary practices that run the Hill’s Pet Slimmer programme.
1 American Journal of Public Health, 2012 Feb;102(2):262-8
2 The Veterinary Journal 2012;192:428–434
Issued by Paula Wilson Media Consulting for Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Media queries please contact Cathy Williams on 021 782 2847 / 084 682 2847 / firstname.lastname@example.org or Paula Wilson Media Consulting on 021 789 1904.