By Lucy Notarantonio
An obese chihuahua – left unable to walk due to his excessive eating habits – looks unrecognisable after dropping the pounds.
Tiny Cleatus began to pile on the pounds following his 12th birthday – after he got into a ‘bad habit’ of eating leftovers from the bin and lot interest in going for ‘walkies.’
He weighed a whopping 2st 3lb [33.5lbs] at his heaviest and relied on a mini wagon for walks as he couldn’t move.
His concerned owners Austin Lee, 23 and Laura Norton, 29, brought him to the vets who discovered hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid which contributed to his weight gain.
Cleatus, who was the ‘largest of the litter’ now weighs a healthy 1st 2lb [17lbs] after following a strict diet and can now walk for one mile without a break.
Laura from Florida, US, 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 realised 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 a meal plan in May 2018.
The veterinary technician found it ‘difficult’ to be strict with him when giving him five minutes to eat measured food – four times a day.
He has 1/3 cup of dry food – twice a day and two cans of food mixed with medicine per day.
He dropped down to one stone [14 pounds] but would often wake Austin and Laura up for more food during the early hours of the morning.
He has since maintained a healthy 17 pounds and loves to play with Cooper and enjoys walkies again.
Laura said: “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!
“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.”