London, Sep 22

Obesity is not only harmful for humans but also for dogs, hence enrolling man's best friend for weight loss programmes could mean increasing their health benefits, a study has showed.

Obesity is the most common medical disease in dogs and, much like humans, is associated with a variety of ailments including orthopaedic disease, diabetes mellitus, altered renal function and respiratory dysfunction.

The findings, led by researchers from the University of Liverpool, showed that a weight loss trial helped overweight dogs lose an average of 11 per cent of their bodyweight.

Female dogs were found to lose more weight on average than male dogs.

Further, improvements were also observed in activity and quality of life, said Alex German, Professor at the varsity.

Treatment of obesity for dogs predominantly involves feeding a purpose-formulated food in restricted quantities to invoke controlled weight loss, as well as increasing physical activity which can provide additional benefits.

For the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the team conducted weight-loss programmes in 926 overweight dogs was at 340 veterinary practices in 27 countries across the world.

Out of these, 896 dogs (97 per cent) lost weight, with mean weight loss being 11.4 per cent.

Despite being on a diet, their food-seeking behaviour became less pronounced. However, differences were noted between intact and neutered dogs, with latter losing less on average.

"The study clearly showed that a properly implemented weight loss programme can successfully result in safe and efficacious weight loss for a large majority of dogs," said spokesperson for Royal Canin -- France-based Pet food company.

"In addition to improvements in quality of life and activity, owners believed that their dogs begged less, findings that can hopefully assure pet owners that returning their pet to a healthy body condition is beneficial and worthwhile," the spokesperson added.

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