New Study Confirms Effective Weight Loss Program for Dogs

Pets who are overweight suffer with an increased number of ailments related to being overweight, have a shortened lifespan on average, as well as an overall lower quality of life relative to their healthy weight counterparts.  Fortunately, a new study has confirmed the effectiveness of a short-term controlled weight loss program for dogs.



Obese dogs helped by ‘effective’ weight loss trials


The importance of obese dogs losing the weight

Obesity is the most common medical disease in dogs in different geographical regions and, much like in humans, is associated with a variety of ailments including: orthopedic disease, diabetes mellitus, altered renal function and respiratory dysfunction.

In addition to these adverse effects on health, quality of life (QOL) is poorer in obese dogs and lifespans can be shortened.


The study

Researchers from the University of Liverpool’s Small Animal Teaching Hospital and Royal Canin have recently completed the largest ever international weight loss trial in dogs, involving 340 veterinary practices in 27 countries across the world.

All dogs received a specially-formulated high-protein, high-fiber weight loss diet for a period of a three months, and the amount of weight loss was determined. In addition, owners were asked to score levels of activity, quality of life, and food-seeking behavior throughout the trial.


Differences in dogs

The majority of dogs enrolled in the study loss weight, with the average being 11% of their starting body weight. However, differences were noted between intact and neutered dogs, with neutered dogs losing less on average.

Further, female dogs lost more weight on average than male dogs, with the difference being most pronounced in dogs from North and South America. Owners also reported improvements in activity and quality of life during the study whilst, despite being on a diet, their food-seeking behavior became less pronounced.


The results

The majority of dogs participating in this short-term study lost weight.  On average overweight dogs lost an average of 11% of their body weight.

“The study clearly showed that a properly implemented weight loss program can successfully result in safe and efficacious weight loss for a large majority of dogs; in this population, 97% of dogs that completed the study lost weight.

“In addition to improvements in quality of life and activity, owners believed that their dogs begged less as the study progressed, findings that can hopefully assure pet owners that returning their pet to a healthy body condition is beneficial and worthwhile.”

-Royal Canin


Journal Reference: John Flanagan, Thomas Bissot, Marie-Anne Hours, Bernabe Moreno, Alexandre Feugier, Alexander J. German. Success of a weight loss plan for overweight dogs: The results of an international weight loss study. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (9): e0184199 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184199



Aside: Recent research findings have demonstrated that BPA, a chemical lining many dog food cans, can leach into the dog food, raising the levels of BPA in dogs’ bodies. As BPA has previously been demonstrated to alter metabolism in dogs and humans, if your dog has a weight problem, it may be a good idea to seek out dog food in BPA-free packaging.