With pet obesity on the rise in the U.S. and the U.K., one British pet charity is tackling the issue head on by launching a "Biggest Loser"-style contest for some of the country's most overweight pets.
Dubbed "The Pet Fit Club" and organized by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), the contest's overweight entrants include 11 dogs, five cats and two round rabbits, according to the press release.
The winning prize for the animal that loses the most weight is a year's worth of pet food and a pet-friendly holiday at a Four Seasons hotel.
In Britain, overfeeding a pet to the point of obesity qualifies as animal cruelty. In 2009, the BBC reported on a pet owner who was fined $1,857 for letting his labrador's weight creep up to 154 pounds.
In 2010, U.S. pet owners using one particular insurance company paid vets $25 million to treat obesity-related conditions such as asthma, according to the Wall Street Journal.
For those concerned about their obese pets, experts say it's important to work with a veterinarian to tackle the problem.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention recommends a high protein, low carbohydrate diet along with plenty of exercise -- 20 to 30 minutes for dogs and 5 to 15 minutes for cats.
Pet owners can also calculate pet food calories and use a weight translator by visiting www.petobesityprevention.com.
Take a look at some of PDSA's big animals that will aim to lose weight in the new contest:
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