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RSPCA reveals UK’s fat pets problem

If you fear your hound is too round or your cat’s too fat then you aren’t alone - the RSPCA believes half of dogs and cats in the UK are overweight. The Society has teamed up with TV vet Joe Inglis to tackle this heavyweight problem and is launching the new Pets Get Slim website and roadshow to help pet owners take action.

Now pet owners can go to www.petsgetslim.co.uk to upload photographs and stories about their pets, share their weight loss experiences with other owners, and have the chance to be voted ‘pet slimmer of the week’. Other features include helpful diet tips and exercise suggestions from ‘Blue Peter’ and ‘Vets in Practice’ star Joe Inglis, as well as a virtual pet weight checker and a search facility to find vets who run pet weight clinics in your area.

Visitors to the Pets Get Slim roadshows which took place late last month were able to have their pet weighed, discover their animal’s ideal weight and pick up a Pets Get Slim goody bag - as well as diet information and pet care tips. The national weigh-in also allowed the RSPCA to further assess the extent of the fat pet problem.

Joe Inglis said: ‘Pet obesity is not an issue to be taken lightly - with so many overweight pets, action needs to be taken today. Whether your pet is obese or slightly overweight - it matters. A weight problem can affect a pet’s quality of life and lead to straining of the joints, causing arthritis, as well as internal illnesses like diabetes, liver disease and heart disease.

‘Now, with the launch of www.petsgetslim.co.uk , pet owners will find help and support is just a click away. We know diets are difficult and when you’ve got a pet begging for treats with pleading eyes, it’s really tough. By using the site, pet owners can share their experiences to help motivate each other to stick to the diet.’

Health Problems Associated With Obese Pets:
• Joint problems such as arthritis and disc problems are often made worse by excess weight

• Liver function can be impaired by fatty deposits

• Heat tolerance is reduced, which can cause problems in

• Skin problems increase, particularly in folds of skin

• Fatty tumours are more common

• Surgery and anaesthesia - obese animals require more anaesthetic, which cannot be easily removed from their systems if liver and kidney function is impaired

• Increased risk of respiratory or cardiac problems, and of wound infection, wounds splitting open and blood clots

• Diabetes mellitus - obesity seems to increase an animal’s chance of developing this condition.

Joe Inglis’ Top Five Tips For Checking If Your Cat Is Overweight:

1. If you feel behind your cat’s front legs, you should easily be able to feel his/her ribs.

2. Look at your cat from above - if s/he is the correct weight, you should be able to see a clearly defined waist.

3. If your cat has a pendulous stomach which swings when they walk or even touches the ground, they are probably overweight.

4. Another sign of excess pounds is if your cat has an accumulation of fat around his/her face.

5. Another cause or a consequence of weight gain in cats is a change in character. Take note of whether your cat has become more sedentary, or spends all day sleeping.

Podgy moggy won’t fit through cat flap
Ten-year-old Ginger is so large she can’t fit through a cat flap - but she’s gradually losing weight thanks to a strict diet.

The hefty ginger cat and her brother Tiggy were handed over to the RSPCA’s South Godstone Animal Centre, Surrey, in May as their elderly owner could no longer cope with looking after them.
Ginger weighed a hefty 9kg and tabby cat Tiggy was slightly lighter at 8kg. Since then, they’ve both lost some weight thanks to a diet drawn up on advice from a vet. Ginger is now 7.7kg and Tiggy is 5.2kg.

Susan Dyson, from the RSPCA’s South Godstone Animal Centre, said: ‘Ginger enjoys her food but we’re being strict with her diet as it’s uncomfortable for her to be so overweight. She isn’t as active as she could be - and she still has trouble fitting through the cat flap!’

Fat cats Connie and Coral suffer health problems
Fat cat Coral weighed in at a massive 8kg - twice the size of the average cat - when she arrived at the RSPCA’s animal centre in Coventry.

Coral and fellow fat feline Connie were handed over to the RSPCA in April this year because their owner decided that because he was working away a lot he no longer had time to care for them.
The cats, which were also in need of dental treatment, were eating too much and didn’t have much outdoor exercise.

As they received little attention from their owner, the cats had become timid and showed little interest in people.

The RSPCA immediately put them on a special diet to gradually reduce their weight.
Manager of the RSPCA’s Coventry animal centre Nikki Smith said: ‘They are now both much healthier and happier, even after just a couple of months - but it’s not easy for a cat to reduce excess weight - so the answer is for owners to feed them properly from the start.

‘We don’t like the thought of owners giving up their animals because they can’t spend enough time with them, but we’re glad that Connie and Coral came to us before it was too late.’

The cats are not yet available for rehoming due to medical conditions caused by their weight problems, but animal centre staff are hopeful that they will be able to find responsible new owners in time.