Harvard Health Letter

In Brief: Of pets and pounds

In Brief

Of pets and pounds

It's said that pets, particularly dogs, look like their owners. But poor pooches — they're getting portly like us and suffering myriad health consequences. Roughly 30% of adult Americans are obese (defined as having a body mass index of 30 or over). A National Academy of Sciences report on pet nutrition published several years ago said 25% of cats and dogs are in the same category.

The drug companies are poised to pounce: In 2007, the FDA approved Pfizer's dirlotapide (Slentrol), a weight-loss drug for dogs that suppresses appetite and blocks fat absorption.

But plenty of research has shown that "companion animals" have all sorts of benefits for our physical, social, and psychological well-being. Why not enlist them in our weight-loss wars — declared and otherwise — and perhaps they would slim down, too?

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