Years of lavishing a pet with treats can leave them appearing a bit large around the gut. Obesity in pets can sneak up on you, and once all those extra pounds are on, they’re hard to get off!
Some pet owners might be tempted to turn to weight loss supplements as a quick way to help their pup shave off some fat. However, it’s not always guaranteed that these pills actually work—or that they’re safe for your furry friend. Get the facts on weight loss supplements to ensure you’re making healthy decisions for your pet.
Rule #1: Ask your vet for advice
Always check with your vet before purchasing a weight loss supplement. Many are available over the counter at pet and health food stores, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe. Supplements are largely unregulated and could put your pet’s health at risk if you don’t know exactly what’s going into their body. Your vet should always determine whether weight loss supplements are appropriate for your pet and which ones contain the ingredients that will help your pet the most.
Veterinarians usually recommend weight loss supplements only as a last resort, because even the most popular brands available today have inconsistent results. For instance, many have praised chitosan for its ability to excrete fat cells from the body. The truth is, studies demonstrate that the level of fat excretion is often too small to make an impact on your pet’s weight loss. Some weight loss supplements are potentially dangerous! For example, some studies have linked conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) to an increased risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
Additionally, weight loss supplements can be risky because you never know how they’re going to interact with your dog’s breed and health conditions. Owners who don’t consult a vet for guidance might accidentally give their pet the wrong dosage. Smaller dog breeds can’t handle the same number of milligrams a vet might prescribe to larger ones.
The bottom line is that weight loss supplements may help your pet, but they should never be given without veterinary approval first.
Potential weight loss supplements for pets
If they deem it necessary, vets can prescribe one of several weight loss supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids have been approved for dogs in the form of fish oil. This compound has been found to encourage weight loss in cats and dogs. Omega-3s also have a range of other health benefits for pets! Vets recommend a supplement instead of actual fish because the latter can add extra calories to your dog’s diet.
Alternatively, vets might recommend sprinkling white kidney bean extract on your dog’s food to aid in weight loss. White kidney beans prevent starches from breaking down into simple sugars by blocking an enzyme called alpha amylase. Sugar provides both dogs and humans short-term energy but is considered unsustainable in the long run. As a natural starch blocker, white kidney bean extract encourages your dog’s body to derive energy from fat and proteins, instead.
Dirlotapide is another popular choice among veterinarians. It was the first FDA-approved weight loss supplement designed exclusively for dogs and is available only with a prescription. Dirlotapide suppresses a dog’s appetite by accumulating fat in the intestinal tract. The medication prevents fat cells from getting absorbed into the bloodstream, which leads to a dog feeling full. Unlike other supplements available on the market, multiple studies have confirmed that dirlotapide is both safe and effective for weight loss in dogs.
Prevention is key in pet weight management
When it comes to weight gain and obesity, prevention is the best medicine. It’s much easier to keep the weight off to begin with than to treat a pet who’s accumulated extra weight. Owners can help their pets maintain a healthy weight by placing them on a calorie-restricted diet and feeding them nutritious foods. No two pets are the same, so ask your veterinarian for advice on which types of foods you should be feeding your dog or cat. They’ll clue you in on which brands contain less fat, high-quality proteins and all the nutrients your pet needs.
A healthy diet isn’t complete without regular exercise. Pets need a balance between their caloric intake and how much energy they burn every day. Make sure your cat or dog gets up and moves around in some way, whether that be daily walks, play time with chew toys, fetch or running around outside. Your vet can suggest more ideas for how to encourage an active lifestyle that keeps off the extra weight.
More research is needed to prove the effectiveness of weight loss supplements for overweight cats and dogs. A few of them might work, but owners should administer them based on guidance from their veterinarians. Only a professional can recommend supplements with proven results and steer you away from ones that aren’t worth it.