It's a new doggy diet for massive Max as he takes on slim challenge

Amanda Morby, Portsmouth

WEATHER: Will the city see more thunderstorms this evening?

Podgy pooch Max may feel like he's in the doghouse - but it's for the good of his health.

Max has been chosen by the PDSA animal charity to take part in its annual slimming competition.

The two-year-old cuddly Cavalier King Charles Spaniel tops the scales at 44.5lbs (20.2kg), when they should read more like 19.8lbs (9kg).

Now his owner Michael Stapleton, from North End, Portsmouth, has to ignore those big brown puppy dog eyes when they look up at him asking for food.

Michael, 40, said it was Max's health problems which alerted him to the fact his dog had become dangerously overweight.

He said: 'It wasn't so much giving him leftovers, but mismanaging his dog food.

'We would follow the advice on the tin for how much to give him, when for a dog his size, he'd need only about half of that.

'We became concerned about his weight because his joints started to play up in his back legs, and he had trouble walking.

'We hadn't realised quite how overweight he'd become until we first took him to the vet.'

Max is one of 11 finalists from around the UK chosen to take part in the PDSA's Pet Fit Club - a six-month diet and exercise challenge.

Max is only allowed to eat 135g of dried food a day, and has to be walked three times a day - meaning Michael, his wife Carole, and his step-daughter Lacey Hart will also be getting into shape.

But Michael is determined to see Max become a slimmer spaniel, however long it takes.

'The PDSA scheme runs for six months, but we'd like to get him down to his ideal weight, even if that takes longer, because his heart and his joints will be better for it.

'He's doing well on the diet so far, and he's not really begging for food, just looking up at me with big brown eyes.'

PDSA senior vet Shane Carmichael, from the PDSA PetAid hospital in Middle Street, Southsea, said: 'Max is a lovely dog.

'We're delighted that Michael is taking on the Pet Fit Club challenge.

'Overweight pets are less mobile, less willing to play and more likely to develop a number of serious health conditions.

'The good news is it's never too late to achieve positive change and improve a pet's lifestyle.

'We're confident that Max will have a slimline figure by the end of the competition.'