When more than 50 percent of our dogs are overweight or obese, I think it’s safe to say that we have an epidemic on our hands. That’s what is happening in this country – 52 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight or obese, and the number creeps up year after year! While we know it’s best to keep pets slim and trim, too often we let the love we feel for them influence our feeding behaviors. Those sad little puppy dog eyes work their magic, and before you know it, we’re filling up Fluffy’s bowl again or giving Rex our leftover dinner. All of these little actions add up to big pounds for our pets.
Simple logic tells us that to lose weight, we should expend more calories than we consume. So, a well-balanced diet (and an appropriate amount of that diet) combined with moderate exercise should keep our pet’s weight in check. But this isn’t always easy. Treats, multiple pets, time constraints, and our pet’s metabolism can all lead to weight gain. And excess weight contributes to all kinds of other health problems, including osteoarthritis, diabetes, respiratory disease, heat intolerance, and increased surgical and anesthetic risks – pet insurance claims for these conditions have risen in tandem with obesity rates.
When diet and exercise aren’t enough to help your dog fight the battle of the bulge, another medical option exists. Slentrol is a once-a-day oral medication that has been FDA-approved for the use in dogs for weight loss, and I’ve seen it work wonders. Before we go any further, let me just answer the question I know you’re dying to ask – no, it can’t be used in humans! Nor can it be used in cats.
Slentrol works by tricking the brain into feeling full after a smaller than “normal” meal. In our (and your dog's) gastrointestinal system, there is an enzyme called MTP (or microsomal triglyceride transfer protein). This enzyme helps transfer fat from the food our dogs eat into their intestinal lymphatic system where it can then travel to the bloodstream. Slentrol inhibits MTP, so the fat your dog eats accumulates in the intestinal cells, triggering the release of a substance called peptide YY. This substance tells your pet’s brain that he's full, even though the meal size is less than the pet is used to getting. Less food in means fewer calories in, and over time, your dog will begin to lose weight!
While on Slentrol, monthly weigh-ins are encouraged. Not only does this help you track your dog’s weight loss progress (and motivate you to continue), but it allows your veterinarian to make dosage changes if needed. The goal with Slentrol is for your dog to lose about 3 percent of her body weight a month. So, while the change will be slow, over time you’ll notice a slimmer, more energetic dog who reminds you of the young pup you used to know.
The most common side effect associated with the use of Slentrol is vomiting, which is typically seen when first starting the medication or if the dosage of the drug needs to be increased in the course of treatment. Vomiting is generally self-regulated and does not require treatment.
Dogs who are being treated with long term corticosteroids, dogs with Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism), and those with liver or seizure disorders should not use Slentrol. And again, the drug cannot be used by humans or cats.
If you’ve tried limiting your pet’s diet and increasing his exercise, but those stubborn extra pounds won’t budge, talk to your vet about Slentrol. It could be the thing that helps you and your pet win the battle of the bulge!