Should I give my dog a weight-loss pill?

Hi Dr, I have heard about a pill that can help dogs lose weight. My pooch Buddy is 55 pounds, and the vet says he...
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Hi Dr,

I have heard about a pill that can help dogs lose weight. My pooch Buddy is 55 pounds, and the vet says he should be about 45. Should I try the pill?

Yakima, WA

Indeed, a new medicine called Slentrol is now being marketed in the US for canine weight loss. I have no personal experience with the product (for reasons which are explained below), but the manufacturer claims that it suppresses canine appetite, making it easier for dogs to lose weight.

Should Buddy start taking Slentrol? I would recommend that he not. In my opinion, it is a mistake to look for an easy solution, in the form of a pill, for your dog’s problem.

At the very least, before you put Buddy on Slentrol, try some conventional tactics to get him to lose weight. Feed him a low-calorie diet, and use some of the tricks outlined in last week’s column to get him to eat more slowly. Take him for more walks, and for longer walks. Play fetch. When he begs for treats, don’t cave in. If he begs at the dinner table, lock him outside the room while you eat. If he eats your other dog’s food, feed the dogs in separate rooms. Have him tested for glandular diseases that can contribute to obesity.

The main reason I am not a fan of the concept of Slentrol is that for your dog to lose weight, YOU must exercise will power and resolve. And if your dog takes a pill, that won’t impact your will power or resolve in the slightest. So, rather than put your dog at risk from side effects or the potential for long-term adverse effects that may occur with any new medicine, I’d recommend that you take a serious shot at getting Buddy to lose weight the old-fashioned way.

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