Geraldine’s dog Paolo piled the pounds in lockdown (Image: PA Real Life)
The lockdown didn’t just affect us humans.
Dogs have also experienced pandemic-induced fights.
Just look at Paolo, a five-year-old chocolate Labrador who nearly doubled in size in the last year – and is now struggling to run for more than 10 minutes at a time.
Its owner, Geraldine Cormack, 51, of Bristol, was appalled to find the pet she had had since puppyhood was experiencing such a drop in health.
The dog weighs 8 to 3 kg heavier than a healthy weight for a dog of its breed.
Geraldine, a full time caregiver for her son Harley, 15, and also the mother of Redley, 22, and Lewis, 17, said, “It’s awful for Paolo, he’s struggling to run for more than 10 minutes.
“It was a combination of inactivity during lockdown and medication he was taking to stop his seizures.
This is what Paolo looked like before the pandemic (Image: PA Real Life)
And that’s it now – twice as difficult (Image: PDSA)
“In any case, we have to get him back to a healthy weight because it is not good for him to be that tall.”
Geraldine also has another dog, Gizmo, a 10 year old Yorkie who is a healthy weight and says Paolo was a fit pup by 2020.
She said, “I’ve had Paolo since he was about 10 weeks old and he has always been lean and healthy, but in recent years there have been a number of factors that led to his weight gain.
“It just crept in and I didn’t realize how bad it got until I took him to the vets two weeks ago.”
Paolo now weighs 8. (Image: PDSA)
Paolo suffered from seizures and was given medication in December 2019, which Geraldine said increased his appetite, and when the pandemic broke out in March 2020, the mother struggled to walk the dog.
Before the lockdown, Paolo took daily walks that lasted between 30 minutes and three hours.
But the lockdown put an end to that.
“I have to think about my son – Harley, who has a global development delay and had to shield while Covid,” explained Geraldine.
“I also have my own health problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a serious lung condition that keeps me breathless when I move, so I had to shield myself too.
He cannot run for more than 10 minutes at a time (Image: PDSA)
“That’s why we couldn’t walk the dogs and that had a big impact on Paolo’s weight.
“We have a garden and Gizmo was very happy to run around there – he’s so small and has a puppy mentality that he hasn’t put on weight.
“But Paolo didn’t want to move with his medication.
“My sons isolated with me so they couldn’t go for a walk with him, so we couldn’t do anything.”
It wasn’t until he went to see the vets that Geraldine realized the extent of Paolo’s problem.
Professionals revealed that it was twice as tall as it needed to be.
Paolo is now on a strict diet (Image: PA Real Life)
Paolo is now on a strict diet, snacks are forbidden. He’s slowly going for a walk again – initially only 10 minutes every other day until it gets a little easier.
He has lost 2 pounds so far but needs to continue this fine work to get back to a healthy weight.
“The only thing he gets is mornings and evenings,” said Geraldine. “I give him the meat from a sausage roll – his favorite snack of all time – and hide his pills in it.
“It’s the only way to get him to take his medication.
“We live near a park, so we took him for a walk there. It’s heartbreaking because before the pandemic, he was racing ahead, running laps around the park and playing with other dogs.
Hopefully he’ll be well soon (Image: PDSA)
“Now he walks very slowly and cannot walk for more than 10 minutes because of the excess weight.
“I just want my puppy to be healthy and happy.
“Many of us gained some weight during the lockdown months, and dogs are no exception.”
Geraldine and Paolo are supported by PDSA, who have compiled a guide to helping pets achieve a healthy weight.
Penny Morgan, a PDSA veterinarian, said: “The story of Geraldine and Paolo is unfortunately not uncommon and veterinary practices across the UK hear the same thing every week as obesity affects the lives of millions of UK pets.
“As veterinarians and even as pet owners, we have full sympathy for the many owners who have spent more time at home with their pets since the beginning of the pandemic.
“It was all too easy to treat them to additional treats and treats that increase the potential for weight gain.
“And while pets with conditions like Paolo may have a more challenging weight loss journey ahead of them, with expert advice, confidence, and perseverance, they can certainly achieve their goal.”
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