Morbidly obese dog who was close to death loses over two stone on £18k diet

A “morbidly obese” puggle that was borderline diabetic and in danger of developing both pancreatitis and liver failure was saved by an emergency diet and fitness programme which can cost up to £18,000.

Bertha the beagle pug cross weighed a whopping 4st 7lb in November 2019, when she was spotted by dog fitness trainer Meredith Wille.

The tubby pup was more than twice the size she should have been when Meredith picked her up for the first time from a rescue shelter in Ohio, US.

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Meredith, from Beaver County, exclusively told the Mirror: "Bertha couldn't stand, let alone walk, and was so unbelievably fat, you could barely see her head. It was very sad to see.

"I'm pretty convinced she wouldn't have survived another month or two without tackling her chronic obesity."

When Meredith took her new pet to the vet for a check-up, there was even more bad news.

Meredith was told that Bertha had an underactive thyroid and a snapped tendon in her left hind leg.

Meredith admitted it was a "little worrisome hearing all her medical problems", but she was set on keeping Bertha alive.

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She devised a weight loss programme, supported by gentle exercise and thyroid medication, with the goal of Bertha losing between four to five per cent of her total body weight each month.

Bertha started by using the underwater treadmill, but could only walk for around two minutes.

As her fitness started to improve, she progressed to a special swimming pool for dogs.

In four months, she lost around 15 to 20lbs, and as Bertha's fat began to melt away, her cheeky personality shone through.

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During June 2020, Bertha was finally slim enough to undergo surgery to fix her injured tendon in her ankle, which Meredith said was a "game-changer".

Meredith originally only intended to adopt the dog, who is thought to be between eight and 10 years old, but she said: "After spending so much time with her, I realised she is an older dog and I didn't want her to have to adjust to another new home.

"She's a very cheerful and naughty dog and she's very attached to me."

Now, it's been almost three years since Bertha hit her target weight – and she's managed to keep it off.

"Over the last year, age has caught up with Bertha. She is having a harder time getting around with her back legs. They are getting weak and not functioning normally," Meredith explained.

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After surgery on her spleen and gall bladder, Bertha reached her target weight in October 2020 – less than a year after Meredith took her under her wing.

Her health and training programme would have cost in the region of £18,000 in total – but Meredith provided her part for free and raised approximately £7,000 through donations.

Now, Meredith says, Bertha “continues to live a fun life of naps and snacks”.

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