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Obese dogs may have lower vitality, more pain, UK study shows

Researchers at the University of Liverpool in the UK recently conducted a study to determine the effect of weight loss on obese dogs.

The study enrolled 50 obese dogs of various breeds and genders at the University's Royal Canin Weight Management Clinic. Prior to the attempted weight loss, dog owners completed a questionnaire on categories such as activity, pain, aggression, sociability, anxiety, happiness, mobility and enthusiasm.

The weight loss program involved feeding the dogs either a high-protein, high-fiber food or a high-protein, moderate-fiber food, along with making changes in exercise. To determine the amount of food to give to each dog, the investigators estimated the maintenance energy requirement using target weight and factors such as gender and presence of associated diseases.

During the course of the study, 30 of the dogs reached their target, with an average weight-loss percentage of 24.4% of their starting weight. Following the study, owners again completed a questionnaire, from which results were evaluated based on the dogs' vitality, emotional disturbance and pain. The study found that all of the dogs that lost weight experienced an improvement in quality of life, as judged by improvements in vitality scores and lower scores for emotional disturbance and pain. Dogs that did not attain their ideal weight after the survey had lower vitality scores and higher emotional disturbance scores.

“This research indicates that, for obese dogs, weight loss can be important for staying both healthy and happy,” said Dr. Alexander German from the University of Liverpool. “Obesity is a risk for many dogs, affecting not only their health, but also their quality of life."

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