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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February, 2005, 12:58 GMT
Animal 'fat clinic' opens in UK
Clarence cat
Clarence the cat is the weight management clinic's first patient
A "fat clinic" for animals, which organisers say is one of the first such centres in the UK, was launched in Liverpool on Wednesday.

The Royal Canin Weight Management Clinic forms part of the Small Animal Hospital at the city's university.

Dr Alex German, head of the clinic, said obesity is already a "major health concern" in people and that a "similar problem" exists in pets.

The first patient to be treated was Clarence the cat.

Pioneering facility'

Clarence, like all patients who attend the clinic, will be offered dietary advice and given an exercise regime to follow.

Animals who have been referred to the Royal Canin Weight Management Clinic will also have their fatty tissue measured by an X-Ray scanner to accurately calculate their degree of obesity and monitor the success of their diet problem.

Dr German said: "In contrast to our medical colleagues, we currently have little information on the magnitude of the problem in cats and dogs, its causes and treatment.

"The new clinic will be a pioneering facility to help veterinarians understand the causes of, and the most appropriate treatment for, animal obesity."

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