At nine years old, Morticia arrived at our shelter so overweight that she required months of specialised foster care before she was well enough for a new home.
Weighing in at a whopping 14.4kg, the shy yet beautifully affectionate pug was in danger of developing musculoskeletal problems and had a tough weight loss journey ahead of her.
While pudgy animals may look cute, being overweight can actually cause a host of health problems for animals – especially for pugs, who are already bred to have breathing difficulties.
Thankfully, due to the dedication of our Lonsdale Shelter Officer Stuart and adopted owner Marilyn, a well-loved Morticia is now more than 5kg lighter and no longer in danger of developing weight-related problems.
Two months of a strict diet and exercise regime – but Morticia was still ‘a dream to foster’
When Stuart first met Morticia, he couldn’t help but notice how reluctant the overweight dog was to exercise – likely because moving around was just so uncomfortable for her with all that extra, unnecessary weight.
“Staff and volunteers would often have to wake her up before taking her for walks,” Stuart recalls.
Thankfully, during the two months she spent in foster care, Morticia lost nearly a third of her body weight – by being walked twice a day while on a strict diet of Hills Pet Nutrition’s specialist Metabolic food.
Despite enduring a rigorous weight loss regime, the special girl maintained high spirits and Stuart simply loved his time with her.
“Funny, quirky and affectionate – Morticia was a dream to foster,” he says.
“It was such a rewarding experience to see not only the physical changes but also the behavioural changes in Morticia as she lost more and more weight.
“She really came out of her shell and when she finally found her forever home she was a much happier and more active dog than when she first arrived here.”
Plenty of love and a very special bond for this now trim and active girl
Throughout her time at Lonsdale, Morticia was walked by many of our beautiful volunteers, one of whom happened to be a close friend of Marilyn’s.
She instantly thought of Marilyn and her fondness for pugs, and the rest is history.
When Marilyn went to the shelter to meet Morticia, she says: “She was a dear little thing – a bit shy, but I could see her fitting into my home so well.”
Now, Marilyn tells us that Morticia has evolved into a truly outgoing and confident lady – so much so that she has become the boss of their tightknit household.
“She rules the house now, I don’t!” Marilyn says.
“But we’re so close, we really depend on each other and she’s just so lively and happy.”
Morticia simply loves going for car journeys and spending quality time with her beloved fur-mum – things that would have been difficult while she was lugging around so much extra weight.
A not-so-loving gesture: the truth behind overfeeding animals
Morticia’s happy tail may be heartening, but there’s a darker side to her weight loss journey.
At RSPCA South Australia, some of our most confronting cases involve dangerously underfed and malnourished animals.
A lesser known fact is that the most common, yet also most hidden form of animal abuse is actually overfeeding pets, which can be just as detrimental as underfeeding them – even if it comes from a place of love.
While having an overweight animal can seem harmless, it’s important to know that overfeeding your pet can cause them to develop serious health problems, including arthritis, diabetes and cancer.
“I guess overfeeding is something that none of us think about,” Marilyn says.
For Morticia, obesity left her joints under so much stress that serious and lasting injury was a possibility. Fortunately, she is no longer at risk and Marilyn says the difference in her now is amazing.
“She looks trim, trot and terrific!”
A lifetime of health for trim, trot and terrific Morticia
Since adopting Morticia in September last year, Marilyn has never looked back.
Reflecting on the journey, Marilyn says, “Don’t walk away from an animal if you can help. Morticia was just an innocent little dog waiting for a new home.
“I love her presence, her personality and having her as a companion – I always have an animal to relate to and I couldn’t imagine my life without her now.”
We’re so glad that Morticia now lives a healthy and happy life with Marilyn. If you’re worried that your pet is becoming overweight and you’re not sure how much to feed them, your vet will be able to weigh them, assess their body condition score and provide advice.