3 effective supplements for pet weight loss

When combined with the right diet and exercise program, these weight loss supplements will safely bring down your dog or cat’s weight.

Do you think your dog or cat may be overweight? If you do, you’re not alone. A survey done by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) last year found that over half of all dogs and cats are overweight and could benefit from a weight loss regimen.

Obese and overweight animals are more prone to many diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Extra weight also makes them more likely to develop arthritis and become prone to knee and hip injuries. A landmark study of 48 Labrador retrievers done in 2005 discovered that Labs who were overweight lived two years less than those who were lean!

This article will help guide you in the use of certain supplements, which when combined with a sensible approach to dietary “portion control” and an appropriate exercise program, will safely and slowly bring down your dog or cat’s weight for optimal longevity and quality of life.

In today’s supplement marketplace, weight loss products abound. Yet out of these many choices, three have stood the test of veterinary research. These evidence-based supplements are the amino acid L-carnitine, white kidney bean extract, and Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils.

1. L-carnitine

This supplement is a vitamin-like, water soluble, free-form amino acid. It has been found to play a role in obesity, feline hepatic lipidosis, and behavioral health. One study followed 14 obese cats that were given 250 mg of L-carnitine daily and were also restricted in the number of calories they ingested each day by (60%). A second placebo group was not given carnitine, but was still calorie-restricted by 60%. After 18 weeks, the group fed carnitine lost significantly more weight than the placebo group.

A second study involved 30 obese dogs who were divided into three groups that were given different levels of L-carnitine. After seven weeks, the two groups that were fed 50 ppm and 100 ppm of carnitine lost 6.4% and 5.7% of their body weight respectively, compared to 1.8% lost in the group that did not receive any carnitine. Since there was no difference between the 50 ppm and 100 ppm groups, the study concluded there was no benefit in adding more than 50 ppm (50 mg/kg of diet) of L-carnitine to a diet for weight loss.

Based on these two studies and others, it is recommended that overweight cats be given 250 mg of L-carnitine twice daily. For dogs, the recommended dosage has a wider range because dogs vary so much in size. Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, states in his book Chow Hounds that the effective dose for dogs ranges from 15 mg/kg to about 100 mg/kg twice daily, with the average being about 50 mg/kg twice daily. To simplify: if your dog weighs less than 25 pounds, give him 250 mg twice daily. If he weighs 25 to 50 pounds, give him 500 mg twice daily. If he’s bigger than 50 pounds, give him 500 mg three times daily.

2. White kidney bean extract

This extract has been found to prevent the breakdown of starch and its absorption by the body. Starch blockers like white kidney bean extract are known to interfere with a specific digestive enzyme, alpha amylase, which breaks down starch into simple sugars. Without the action of alpha amylase, starch cannot be broken down and absorbed into the body.

In a study of 17 overweight or obese dogs that were given starch blocker sprinkled on their meals for nine weeks, 15 (88%) lost an average of 4.61% of their bodyweight. Dogs who weighed less than 50 pounds were given 500 mg of this starch blocker. The authors of the study felt that dogs heavier than 80 pounds should be given 1.5 grams of starch blockers for better results.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have an effect on the mitochondrion, the powerhouse of the cell, which is responsible for generating the body’s heat and energy from digested food materials. It has been found that Omega-3 fatty acids have a direct effect on the part of the mitochondrion that creates heat and energy.

In one study, obese male beagles were divided into two groups that received two different calorie-reduced diets. One group received beef fat (tallow) containing only 0.2% Omega-3 fatty acids. The other group received fish oil with 4.1% Omega- 3s (EPA/DHA). There was a 2,000% difference in Omega-3 content between the two diets, although each contained the same amount of calories. Both tallow and fish oil are equivalent sources of fat calories, but the group fed the fish oil lost significantly more weight than the group fed beef fat. This is due to the “thermogenic” (fat-burning) property of fish oil’s Omega-3s, a property that saturated fats such as beef tallow do not possess.

Remember that helping your dog or cat with weight loss involves more than giving him supplements. To be effective, weight loss programs take commitment, consistency and a game plan that also includes a high quality portion-controlled diet and regular exercise. However, knowing something about the best supplements to assist with weight loss can vastly improve your game.