Like so many of us, Cleatus the chihuahua began to pile on the pounds as he got older, getting into a bad habit of eating leftovers from the bin and no longer being keen on walkies.
We’ve all been there.
The dog eventually put on so much weight, tipping the scales at a whopping 2 stone 3lbs, that he couldn’t walk and needed to be rolled around in a mini wagon.
Now, after a lot of hard work and determination, Cleatus has come out the other side of a dramatic health transformation – and looks like a completely different dog.
His journey to better health began when his owners Austin Lee, 23, and Laura Norton, 29, took him to the vets and were told he had hyperthyroidism, which contributed to his weight gain.
Laura said: ‘He maintained a healthy weight of 1st 7lbs [25lbs] for most of his adult life but once he reached 12 years of age – he began to pile on the pounds and slow down.
‘As he got bigger, it was difficult to take him for walks as he physically couldn’t make the trip on his own and Austin, who is a roofing contractor, would often have to carry him.
‘We have a Golden Retriever called Cooper, seven, who is full of energy and loves to run so we decided to get Cleatus a wagon to ensure he wasn’t left out. Cleatus would walk a little and then lie in the wagon and enjoy the sun.
‘If his bowl was empty, it would get filled up and the process would repeat and he also got into a bad habit of getting into the trash.
‘But as he got lazier and lazier, we realized there must be something wrong and brought him to the vets and he was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid.
‘His metabolism was slowed down making him feel very lethargic which explained his low energy levels.’
Cleatus was prescribed medication to manage his condition and began a strict meal plan in May 2018.
Making a change wasn’t easy. Cleatus was given just five minutes to eat each of his four meals and would often wake Austin and Laura to beg for more food in the early hours of the morning.
He eventually dropped to a healthy 1 stone 2 lb and can now walk and play again.
‘It was hard for all of us to get into a routine but once we got the momentum going, it was fine – portion control is everything,’ Laura explained.
‘The key part was giving him a certain time to eat and then take the bowl away to teach him food isn’t going to be there all day.
‘At first, he would have a nibble then walk off expecting the bowl to be there all day but by day four he realised he didn’t have all the time in the world and devoured it.
Once his thyroid was regulated, his life changed for the better and he is now a completely different dog – he is wild and loves life again.
‘I can’t stress enough to other dog owners to feed their pets healthy food – humans avoid junk food as we know it isn’t good for us and it is the same with dogs.’