Scientists find the way to help dogs lose weight safely

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Overfed dogs experience some of the same maladies associated with overweight and obesity in humans.

In a new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, researchers found that for overweight dogs fed a reduced-calorie, high-protein, high-fiber diet for 24 weeks, their body composition and inflammatory markers changed over time in ways that parallel the positive changes seen in humans on similar diets.

The dogs achieved a healthier weight without losing too much muscle mass, and their serum triglycerides, insulin, and inflammatory markers all decreased with weight loss.

Previous studies have shown that overweight and obesity lead to a shorter lifespan and a lower quality of life – in dogs and humans.

As professor Kelly Swanson says, some of the problems we see in humans with obesity also occur in pet dogs. There’s added stress on the joints, there’s an intolerance to exercise and heat; there’s also glucose intolerance, insulin resistance. And if you look at pet insurance claims, obesity is a big factor there.

In the current study, the team measured the changes in the dogs’ fecal microbiota over the course of losing weight.

They found the reduction in fecal ammonia – probably the result of eating less protein on the calorie-restricted diet.

The dogs that lost weight had also increases in the proportion of bacteria of the genus Allobaculum.

Higher Allobaculum populations are linked to an increase in fecal butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that is a byproduct of the fermentation of dietary fiber.

The findings suggest that overweight dogs do benefit from a high-protein, high-fiber weight loss regimen.

If you care about your dog, please read studies about how to feed your dog for health and longevity, and common household noises may be stressing your dog.

For more information about weight management, please see recent studies about 5 steps to lose weight and keep it off, and results showing that doing exercise this way can help you lose more weight.

The study was conducted by Thunyaporn Phungviwatniku et al. and published in the Journal of Animal Science.

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