Podgy pets highlight serious obesity problem in nation’s animals

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, 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.”

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 into a special obesity diet, and she lots a kilo over a few months.

“She still looks fairly big as she has a lot of excess skin but 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 Yately, 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 arrived in July weighing 3.6kg – more than a kilo more than he should – and was put on a diet immediately, with staff trying to encourage him to hop around and exercise as much as possible.

Anna said: “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.”

To offer an RSPCA rescue pet a new home visit: www.rspca.org.uk/findapet. To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give.