Spoiling your pet is easily done. Treating your companion to plentiful food and letting them off exercise is a habit of many pet owners. Unfortunately, if this goes too far and pets gain an unhealthy amount of weight then the consequences can be very damaging. Flat-faced breeds of dogs are especially vulnerable since their restricted breathing can make it more difficult for them to exercise.  

Battersea Dogs and Cats home has used National Obesity Awareness week – running 14th – 21st January – to highlight the problem of overweight pets.

Nelly, a 10-year-old Bulldog, came into Battersea as a stray after she was found tied up in a park with a note that simply read ‘sorry’. She was very overweight when she arrived, around 10 kilograms above the healthy weight for a female bulldog. At 32 kilograms, she weighed the same as the average 10-year-old child.

Nelly had to undergo surgery to open up her airways to allow her to breathe more easily. Battersea’s vets believe Nelly’s size is likely to have hindered her breathing even further, making it difficult for her to exercise and shift some of the weight. As she took some time to recover from her operation, Nelly stayed at Battersea for 82 days in total, which is over double the average stay for a dog.

“The most common reason that pets become overweight is eating too much food and not getting enough exercise,’ said Battersea vet Claire Turner. “Much like humans, pet calorie intake and expenditure need to be balanced to maintain a healthy weight. Nelly’s been on a strict diet and a gentle exercise regime at Battersea, as we need to help her peel off the pounds, while being careful with her breathing.’

‘Pet obesity is something we see a lot here at Battersea, and research shows more than half of British dogs are overweight, so this is something every pet owner needs to be aware of. Pet obesity can cause serious health issues, so – if you think your cat or dog might be overweight – it’s best to consult your vet, who will be able to assess your pet and advise you on how to help them lose the extra pounds,” she said.

Luckily for Nelly, she has found her happy ending. She has been rehomed by Roz Funnell in Hertfordshire. “After losing my old Battersea dog, Millie, to a heart attack last year and then having a hip replacement in the summer, I was in absolutely no rush to rehome another dog,’ said the new owner. ‘But, on a visit to Battersea with my nephew in November I saw Nelly walk past, and it was love at first sight.”

“When I got the call to say that she was medically cleared to be rehomed I was absolutely over the moon. I’ve been waiting for her for such a long time, but it was so worth it. All of the staff at Battersea have done an excellent job of looking after her, making sure that she was healthy enough to finally come home.”

“I have a fantastic vet who will help me set a diet plan for Nelly, and hopefully with some gentle exercise we can both get a little bit fitter together!”