FDA Approves Drug to Treat Obesity in Dogs

For those among us who might feel that the American people are “overmedicated,” you may have a new dilemma on your hands. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its approval of the first-ever drug to treat dog obesity, a condition that affects approximately 5 percent of dogs in the U.S.

The new drug, called Slentrol (generic: dirlotapide), is manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and, according to the FDA, it “reduces appetite and fat absorption to produce weight loss” in canines. “This is a welcome addition to animal therapies, because dog obesity appears to be increasing,” said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “Veterinarians are well aware that overweight pets are at a higher risk of developing various health problems, from cardiovascular conditions to diabetes to joint problems.”

Slentrol is what’s known as a “selective microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitor.” The drug blocks the assembly and release of lipoproteins into the bloodstream, which leads to reduced fat absorption and a “satiety signal” from lipid-filled cells lining the intestine. The recommended regimen consists of an initial 14-day prescription, which is then adjusted month by month until the dog reaches the desired weight level. Once that happens, Pfizer recommends continuing Slentrol treatment for an additional three months in order to stabilize the dog’s weight. Adverse reactions may include vomiting, loose stools, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

It should be noted that Slentrol is not approved for use in people. The label says quite clearly: “Not for use in humans. Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children.” Humans who disregard that warning may be susceptible to abdominal distention, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

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