The Weight Is Over - New Pfizer Drug Fights Canine Obesity

Dog owners, who would like a slimmer, healthier pet, shouldn’t despair just because diet and exercise have failed to have the desired effect.

At last UK veterinary surgeons have access to new pharmaceutical options that can help increase the chances of successfully shedding those extra pounds long-term.

A new drug which has already been used successfully in the US is now approved for use by European vets. It works mainly by altering the way the body handles fat in the diet, so the dog feels full earlier and may beg less, thus making it easier for the owner to implement and commit to a weight loss programme long-term.

It has been developed specifically for use in dogs and is not approved for use in any other animals or humans. When used in combination with a controlled diet and exercise programme, the new treatment can dramatically increase the chances of long-term success.

Experts estimate that between 25-40% of Europe’s dogs are overweight or obese and are therefore at risk of long-term health problems1.

Research has shown that overweight dogs may live up to two years less than those that are at normal weight2 and the list of serious health problems linked to obesity include heart disease3, diabetes4 and osteoarthritis5.

Being overweight also reduces the quality of life of many dogs, as they are unable to exercise without becoming too tired, out of breath or too hot. This in turn reduces the amount of fun that owners can have with their pet, and potentially damages the pet/owner relationship.

According to Dr Alex German, who runs Europe’s first companion animal weight management referral clinic at the University of Liverpool (, the rise in dog obesity has a number of basic causes: “Our modern, work-oriented lifestyles mean that many pets do not get the exercise that they should. Instead of forging the owner/pet bond with the experience of shared exercise and play, many owners use treats as a way of showing their love for their dog.”

The combination of too many calories taken in and not enough calories burnt off, is the basic reason why our pets are putting on weight, says Dr German.

“Of course, prevention is better than cure,” he says, “and getting into good habits when you first get a new dog is the best strategy. But in cases where the dog has become overweight, the answer is to follow a diet and exercise plan devised by a veterinarian.”

However, owners often find it difficult to stick to a weight loss programme, especially if their pet seems to be continually hungry.

“The new drug option means that vets now have an extra tool that can help owners to follow and be successful with a weight loss plan,” says Dr German.

The new treatment is being marketed by Pfizer Animal Health as an integral part of a weight loss programme alongside dietary and exercise modification and is available only from veterinary surgeons. The drug comes in liquid form and can be either added to the dog’s food once a day or put directly into the dog’s mouth using a syringe. A course of treatment may last up to 12 months, and the dose is adjusted regularly to maintain a healthy, gradual and tailor-made weight loss.

“This is not a cure for obesity, nor is it meant to be used as the sole method of weight loss,” says Dr German. “For long term success, owners still have to be motivated to follow an integrated weight loss programme, which includes other elements such as modified diet and/or exercise. However, it can help owners to succeed with getting their dogs to lose weight successfully.”

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