A Drug Fit for a Dog?

Dear Reader,

I’ve always said the idea that you can shed pounds and achieve lasting fitness by taking a prescription pill is ridiculous. But I came across something recently that’s really over the top . . .

Pfizer just released the first FDA-approved prescription diet drug for dogs. It’s called “Slentrol.”

They claim that if your pet is a little pudgy, all you have to do is give it a pill a day for three months or so. The drug works by preventing your dog’s digestive tract from being able to absorb fat. It also makes them feel full.

There are so many things wrong with this, I don’t know where to start.

First, like prescription weight loss drugs for humans, Slentrol comes with some awful side effects, including:

• Vomiting

• Loose stool

• Diarrhea

• Sluggishness

Imagine your dog having to vomit and lie around all day in order to lose weight. There’s something really wrong with this picture.

Second, any drug that prevents fat absorption—like GlaxoSmithKline’s “alli” for humans—will also prevent the absorption of vital fat-soluble nutrients. This includes Co10, the major energy source for almost every cell in your body as well as your pet’s and the key to healthy function of all major organs, especially the heart, brain and liver.

Slentrol will also rob your dog of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These are crucial to good eyesight, a shiny coat, a healthy heart, and strong bones.

Then there’s the problem of how your pet may have gotten overweight in the first place. Believe it or not, most so-called “low-fat” dog food makes dogs fatter. Well-intentioned pet owners feeding Fido and Spot so-called “reduced calorie” specialty foods are actually giving them the exact opposite of what they need to stay fit and trim.

The main ingredients in many of these brands are corn, rice, wheat, soy, beans—even peanut shells. Dogs are scavengers. They evolved to eat what they could find. Some of their calories came from grain sources (usually contained in the stomachs of other animals they captured), but their bodies mainly rely on protein and fat for good health.

Giving them food that contains a lot of grains will have the same effect that it has on humans: it produces an insulin spike, raises their blood sugar, and pack on the pounds.

I’ve got an 11-year-old Springer Spaniel named Cosmo. And if you’re at all like me, the idea of getting him into shape by forcing a pill down his throat every day is completely absurd.

He’s got the same boundless energy he had when he was a puppy. Here’s what I do to keep him fit and happy:

Skip commercial pet food brands Dogs need raw protein more than anything else. I give Cosmo red meat, chicken, and fish scraps, along with two raw eggs every day. You can feed your dog dry food occasionally for convenience, but most of them still have too much carbohydrate and the wrong kind of fat. Add meat scraps or raw eggs to insure dietary balance.

  • Portion control Dogs can do well on one meal a day. In fact, in Nature a dog might go a day without eating at all. Most people don’t know this, so they wind up overfeeding their pets.

  • Good fat You already know how good omega-3s are for you. Same goes for dogs. It’s the key to reducing heart disease, high blood pressure, ramping up HDL cholesterol levels (the “good” kind), and keeping their joints, eyesight, and immune systems strong and healthy. I’ll add a tablespoon of cod liver oil into his bowl to make sure he’s getting plenty of omega-3.

  • Exercise I know a lot of pet owners aren’t home enough to get their dogs running out in the yard. But there are steps you can take to get them enough exercise. One is to hire a dog walker or have neighbors let their kids take your pet out to play under their supervision. You can also bring your dog with you on the go when you do errands. Even the extra walking is good for them.

To Your Dog’s Good Health,

Al Sears, MD