Pfizer recently introduced the first FDA approved dog weight loss drug, Slentrol, and as of today began shipping the product out for distribution.

Obesity in children and adults has been raising concerns in the US for a while now and it seems that our pets are in the same boat. According to a recent study by Pfizer Animal Health, 47% of our pets are overweight or obese though only 17% of owners would classify their dogs as such.

So how do you know if your dog is obese?

To find out, first place your thumbs squarely in the middle of your pet’s back and allow your fingers to feel the ribs. If the ribs are easily felt with a slight layer of muscle and fat in between, your pet is probably at the correct weight. If the ribs are difficult to feel with a thick layer of fat in between, your pet may be overweight. If the ribs cannot be felt and are covered by a thick layer of fat, your pet is probably obese. Overweight dogs are 10 to 20 percent above their ideal body weight, while obese dogs are more than 20 percent about their ideal body weight.

Sandy Harvey, of the Hocking County Humane Society, said, “If you press lightly on the ribcage, you should be able to feel the outline of the ribs. Don’t poke hard, just take the palms of your hand over the dogs ribcage. Also the belly should be tucked up rather than hanging down.”

Besides being unhealthy, having a dog that is obese can lead to other issues, including heart disease, skin problems, arthritis, diabetes mellitus, breathing problems, ruptured ligaments, slipped discs, and a poor immune system. Not only that, but overweight dogs have a decreased life expectancy. A study in dogs has shown that healthy dogs can live two years longer than obese dogs.

Some experts believe there may be a connection between obesity and genetics because certain breeds are predisposed to being overweight, including Labrador retrievers, dachshunds, shelties, cocker spaniels, beagles, basset hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and cairn terrier dogs. Actual genes associated with obesity have not been found though. (The Logan Daily News)

Stentrol promises a descrease in appetite through a chemical mechanism that works differently than those in human weight-loss drugs.

To be quite honest I have serious misgivings about giving a dog drugs to help it lose weight. There’s always the possibility of unforseen complications and side effect.  It is worth it to take a chance with your dog’s health and safety for a ‘quick fix’?

With dogs, as with people, the key to weight loss is a reduction in calories, a healthy diet and a good exercise program.

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