News Fat Dog Slim How Weight Loss Makes Dogs Even Healthier



Fat dog slim…how weight loss makes dogs even healthier
14th October 2020

By Justine Thompson

Obese dogs that are put on a weight-loss diet could achieve significant extra health benefits, according to a new study backed by Purina.

The research concluded that not only do pets improve their overall quality of life, with less risk of arthritis and an improved coat, but there are also benefits at a metabolic level.

For the research, 11 dogs were put through a six-month weight-loss programme with 11 ideal weight dogs used as control. When compared with the control group, the obese dogs showed clinical improvements on a number of key indicators related to immune function, such as reduced tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin (IL)-6, which is known to impair insulin action in metabolic tissues but also favour cancer development in humans. Improvements to cardiovascular health were also noted.

Purina, which backed the research by a group of scientists, says the new study comes as pet obesity risks are being exacerbated by global lockdowns. From 2015 to 2018, incidence of obesity and overweight classifications in dogs has grown by 2%, and by 1.3% in cats. This may worsen in global lockdowns due to changes in daily routines for owners and pets that impact on pets’ feeding behaviours and exercising activities, it fears.

Hugues du Plessis, pet obesity prevention manager at Purina, said: “Preventing pet obesity is a major focus at Purina. We not only want to be providing pet owners with information on the benefits of a healthy pet lifestyle, but we also want to help them achieve it. This is why we are working with partner organisations to understand how behavioural science can be used to support owners, from the recognition of an issue, to the changes that will make a difference.”

Another study of pet owners across five countries including the UK has revealed that only around a third of owners can recognise when a pet is overweight. However, maintaining ideal bodyweight from the start of a pet’s life has been shown to increase lifespan by 1.8 years and significantly delay the onset of disease associated with aging, such as arthritis.