Canine Obesity

Filed Under: Dogs, Diet & Nutrition

Obesity is defined as an increase in body weight beyond optimal skeletal and physical requirement, as the result of an excessive accumulation of fat in the body. Obesity may be due to metabolic or internal (endocrine) abnormalities known as endogenous causes or exogenous obesity due to overeating. Exogenous obesity is the end result from an imbalance between calorie intake and the expenditure of energy used in day to day activities.

Endogenous obesity is a result of abnormal function of one of the endocrine glands: the thyroid, adrenal, gonads or insulin producing cells of the pancreas.

These endocrine abnormalities occur in one of four different areas:

  • Overactivity of the adrenal cortex leading to an increase in body corticosteroid levels
  • Inactivity of the thyroid gland leading to a decrease in metabolism
  • Overproduction of insulin which is associated with hypoglycemia and an increase in appetite
  • Hypofunction of the gonads which is seen after neutering a pet.

Exogenous obesity is due to factors arising outside the individual. An example would be a diet that is too high in fat content or eating two to three times what is required for optimal calorie intake.

Obesity is a condition which leads to serious health consequences. Being overweight or obese has been associated with increased risk of serious diseases in dogs such as arthritis, heart disease, respiratory conditions, diabetes mellitus, impaired reproductive efficiency, dystocia (difficulty in delivery), and cancer. It is estimated that 40 to 50% of dogs are overweight and 20% of cats.

Pfizer Animal Health has recently received approval in the United States for the first and presently the only medication for the management of canine obesity. Slentrol® or dirlotapide is an oral liquid that is given directly into the mouth or with a small amount of food. Slentrol® works by decreasing a dog’s appetite and thereby food intake. Slentrol® also works to prevent fat absorption in the intestinal tract. When combined with healthy eating habits and exercise an average of 11.8% mean body weight loss was obtained in a four month study.

In general, Slentrol® was found to be well tolerated. The most common side effects of Slentrol® usage are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and anorexia. This drug is not approved for use in cats due to the increased incidence of hepatic lipidosis. Slentrol® should not be used in dogs with liver problems or those taking long-term corticosteroids.

Topics: diet, exercise

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