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We see advertisements for diet pills everywhere – from Facebook sidebars and newspapers to light poles and text messages. Whether you like them or not, they have become ubiquitous. But the main question pet owners are asking is “Are diet pills safe for dogs?” With more than 50 percent of the dogs in the United States classified as obese, this is a question worth considering.The FDA recently approved Dirlotapide, which is the first veterinary medication that was designed as a weight management aid for overweight dogs. If it is used in conjunction with a diet and exercise program approved by your pet’s veterinarian, it can be quite effective in reducing your dog’s weight in a safe and effective manner.What is it?
Dirlotapide is a microsomal triglyceride protein transfer inhibitor. It is oil based and it blocks the release of lipoproteins into our dog’s bloodstream, thereby reducing the absorption of fat. As an oral supplement, it is given once a day either through an oral syringe or by mixing it with a small amount of dog food. Since it is a drug, you must get your dog evaluated for any contraindications before you start treatment. Your vet will conduct a thorough examination and take into account the breed, age and other health considerations that would indicate a more conventional weight loss approach. Once the use of the drug has been approved, your vet will come up with a schedule and thoroughly go over all the precautions and specifics that need to be taken.How does the drug work?
Dirlotapide basically prevents the intestine of your dog from absorbing the dietary fat that is found in your dog’s food. This causes your dog to feel full and suppresses his appetite. Since he eats a smaller amount of food than he usually does, his body will start burning the stored fat, causing him to lose weight. Your vet will come up with an exercise program that will encourage your dog’s body to use up more of the fat stores and build muscle. As your dog begins to lose weight, your vet will gradually wean him off the dose. You need to bear in mind that appetite suppression is just a short term effect and will affect your dog only while he is on the medication.Are there possible side effects?
Loss of appetite is the intended and most noticeable side effect. In rare cases, the drug can cause vomiting or diarrhea. If the dosage is increased, it might cause constipation, salivation and mild depression. If you are worried about the side effects, consult with the vet to see if you can change the dosage to mitigate the effects. If your dog is on steroids or on medication for treating liver disease, he might not be a good candidate for diet pills. Your vet will make the call based on the overall health of your dog.