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Vets develop diet for obese dogs

A DIET for obese dogs has been developed by veterinary scientists working in the UK and France.Researchers have found that a high protein, high fibre diet is more successful in weight loss programmes for dogs because it helps to create a feeling of fullness.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, was carried out by vets at the University of Liverpool's Small Animal Teaching Hospital, working with the Royal Canin Research Centre in France, and has led to the development of a new diet food for dogs.

Most owners who place their pets on diets say the dogs overcome the effects by scavenging, but the new diet, called Satiety Control, aims to combat that problem.

Dr Alex German, head of the weight management clinic at the Small Animal Hospital, said: ‘Obesity is common in dogs and can lead to a range of illnesses and diseases, even premature death. Although treatment for weight loss has been in existence for some time it has not been without its problems. Simply reducing a dog's food intake and increasing exercise can lead to begging and scavenging.

‘The new formula is a breakthrough for diet-based weight loss plans for dogs; if satiety is better, then improved compliance is likely to lead to greater success. This work may also be relevant for people as well as dogs. Increasing both dietary fibre and protein may help people on a dietary weight loss plan to control their appetite.’

During the study, vets tested three different diets: one high in protein with moderate fibre content, one high in fibre with moderate protein content and one high in both protein and fibre.

They tested the diets for satiety, digestibility and palatability. The team found that a diet high in both fibre and protein was most effective in satisfying appetite, suggesting that their satiety effects may be separate but can be combined for maximum benefit.

Importantly, say the scientists, this improvement did not come at the expense of either digestibility or palatability - often a concern with some high fibre diets.