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Help for Overweight Dogs

How to create a doggie diet for weight loss and good nutrition.
(continued)

When to Try an Rx for Your Overweight Dog

If diet and exercise aren’t working, medication could help, but only as a last resort.

Tams recommends Pfizer Animal Health’s prescription drug Slentrol. "We always try exercise and diet modification first," he says. "But some animals have seen weight loss with Slentrol, which helps to decrease appetite and fat absorption."

Still Not Losing? Maybe it’s Medical

If cutting out unhealthy snacks and table scraps, serving diet dog food, increasing physical activity, and medication don’t do the trick, an underlying health condition likely triggered the weight gain. "That’s why consultation with a vet who can perform blood work is so important," Tams says. Your vet will check for:

  • Low thyroid level
  • Hormonal imbalances, such as Cushing’s disease, an excess of adrenal hormones

Just like people, overweight dogs can face a litany of health issues, so a diet may save your pet’s life. The potentially devastating consequences of obesity include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Greater risk for heat stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Orthopedic concerns
  • Compromised immune system
  • Reduction in life span
  • Mammary tumors (particularly in un-spayed females)
  • Skin conditions
  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure

How Long Will It Take to See Results?

Aim for gradual weight loss and expect significant improvement to take several months. "The ideal would be a loss of 1% to 2% of the initial weight per week," Tams says.  

Once you’ve achieved success, maintain the weight loss by sticking to what you know. "Hopefully while achieving your dog’s weight loss goals, you both developed some healthier habits," Murray says. "Stick to these: avoiding between-meal snacks and treats, regular exercise, and controlled food portions. Getting the whole family into healthy-dog habits is essential for long-term weight management."

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Reviewed on April 27, 2012
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