The RSPCA is urging owners to watch what their pets eat after taking in a number of pets whose weight had ballooned dangerously.
The animal welfare charity is raising awareness of the problem after caring for a number of obese animals who arrived into its care dangerously overweight. Like porky puss Poppy (pictured) who arrived at RSPCA Little Valley Animal Shelter, in Devon, weighing more than 6kg!
RSPCA pet welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “Pet obesity is a serious welfare issue affecting a large proportion of our pets today. Recent studies have suggested that around half of all pet dogs are overweight and this can cause serious health and welfare issues for them such as heart disease and diabetes.
“Obesity can affect all types of pets and the main cause is from eating too much or not exercising enough. As a rough guide for dogs and cats - you should be able to see and feel the outline of their ribs without excess fat covering them. Other tips are that you should be able to see and feel their waist and it should be clearly visible when viewed from above. Anyone who is concerned about their pet’s weight should speak to their vet for advice.”
‘Tubby Tara’ was rescued by the RSPCA in January 2018 and was taken in by RSPCA Newcastle and Northumberland branch before being rehomed in May 2018 weighing a healthy 18.5kg.
At her post-adoption visit, the RSPCA raised concerns about Tara’s weight and staff tried to work with the Staffie’s new owners to help keep her weight in check. However, when Louise Brooke, visited just before Christmas last year, she was very concerned about Tara’s weight.
She said: “She really did get tubby! She’d hit 27kg - that’s almost 9kg heavier than she’d been less than six months before when we adopted her out. We worked with her new owners to help her lose weight but they were struggling and soon realised that they couldn’t help her so gave her back to us in January. She weighed 27.25kg - far too much for a Staffie of her size.”
Kennel staff immediately put Tara on a strict diet and exercise plan and she quickly lost weight. She also had vet checks to rule out any health problems and was given a clean bill of health.
In April, Tara went off to her new home with Alan and Lorraine Shambrook - weighing a healthy 18.3kg. And at a check-up recently she weighed 17.9kg with vets saying she’s finally at her perfect weight.
Alan, from the Scottish Borders, said Tara has settled in perfectly: “Tara now looks as fit as a fiddle. We live in a rural area so she’s getting two two-mile walks a day which she absolutely loves. We love her to bits and we know the feeling is mutual!”
Pretty Poppy was quickly dubbed ‘Porky Poppy’ when she was taken in by the RSPCA in Exeter after her owner died in April.
Little Valley acting deputy manager Anna James said: “Poppy was very overweight when she arrived, weighing in at more than 6kg! We immediately put her onto a special obesity diet and she lost a kilo over a few months. She still looks fairly big as she has a lot of excess skin but she still has some weight to lose. Ideally we’d like her to be around 4kg.
“She’s a lovely cat and, as she lost the weight, she became much more relaxed and friendly, probably because she felt more and more comfortable.”
Poppy - who has now been rehomed by a family in Yateley, Hampshire - isn’t the only four legged furry in the Fat Pet Club at Little Valley Animal Shelter.
One of Poppy’s neighbours, three-year-old Mini Rex rabbit Fudge, could also do with shedding some weight. ‘Fudge the Fatty’ arrived in July weighing 3.6kg - more than a kilo more than he should - and was been put on a diet immediately, with staff trying to encourage him to hop around and exercise as much as possible.
Anna added: “Fudge is a handsome boy and Rex rabbits are quite large - but Fudge is enormous! He seems to enjoy eating a little more than he should and has become somewhat plump!
“We’d like him to find a home where he’ll live outdoors with plenty of space to explore and hop around - which will hopefully help him lose some weight! He’d also like a female bunny playmate to keep him company.
“Unfortunately, we see a lot of obesity in rabbits which can lead to various issues such as sore feet. Their discomfort can also make them grumpy. And obesity can also lead to delays in rehoming as they are often too fat to safely neuter.”