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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 22:36 GMT
US obese dogs to get diet pills
A dog
About 5% of America's 65 million dogs are thought to be obese
A weight-loss drug for dogs has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Slentrol, made by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, is intended to significantly reduce the appetite as well as fat absorption in canines.

The FDA's head of veterinary medicine said the drug was a welcome addition to animal therapies because of an apparent increase in dog obesity in the US.

Americans own 65 million dogs and almost 40% of US households have one.

According to the FDA, veterinarians generally define a dog that weighs 20% more than its ideal weight as obese.

Surveys have found that approximately 5% of dogs in the US are obese, and another 20-30% are overweight, it says.

Slentrol is expected to be available in the spring and should cost between $1 and $2 a day, a Pfizer company spokeswoman said.

Side effects

The liquid drug appears to reduce the amount of fat a dog can absorb and also triggers a feeling of fullness, according to the FDA.

However, the prescription drug can also produce side effects, including loose stools, diarrhoea, vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite.

As with humans, obesity can lead to diabetes along with heart and joint problems.

The drug will appeal to dog owners who want a fast and simple way to slim down their canine pets, Bonnie Beaver, a professor in veterinary medicine told AFP news agency.

"It's easy to say we will feed them less and exercise them more. Well, we know how well that works for us," she said.

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