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Former heavyweight Hector wins 2013 Hill’s Pet Slimmer of the Year

Hector van Schalkwyk, a once rather rotund Rottweiler from Centurion, Pretoria is South Africa’s 2013 Hill’s Pet Slimmer of the Year, having shed an incredible 25kgs on a veterinary-supervised weight management programme.

Hector (four years old) 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 are the winners and each will receive 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:

Benji Bekker, a Labrador from Pretoria, lost 11.5kgs (23% of his bodyweight)
Felix Botha, a Dachshund from Pretoria, lost 5.3kg (41% of his bodyweight)
Hector Van Schalkwyk, a Rottweiler from Pretoria, lost 25kgs (30% of his bodyweight)
Max Versfeld, a three-legged Labrador from Pretoria, lost 8.4kgs (20% of his bodyweight)
Timmy Grove, a cat from Pretoria, lost 1.1kgs (17% of his bodyweight)

Is your pet a healthy size? has tools to calculate ideal weight, loads of nutritional advice and a list of veterinary practices that run the Hill’s Pet Slimmer programme.

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