Friday, March 07, 2008 by: David Gutierrez
(NaturalNews) Pfizer has launched a diet medication for dogs, drawing criticism from veterinarians and animal welfarists who believe that there are no pharmaceutical solutions to the problem of obesity in domestic animals.
Approximately one-quarter of dogs and one-third of cats in the United Kingdom are obese, as well as significant numbers of other pets including rabbits and hamsters. As in humans, obesity in pets increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, joint problems and diabetes; the prevalence of feline diabetes has increased fivefold in the past 30 years.
Pfizer's new drug, called Slentrol, is a liquid meant to be mixed into a dog's food. It suppresses the animal's appetite and interferes with the body's ability to absorb fat. If given regularly, it can cause that animal to lose 18 percent of its weight -- nearly one-fifth -- in six months. The company is marketing the drug as an affordable solution for pet owners who cannot resist giving out treats when confronted with "puppy dog eyes," or who do not have time to properly exercise their animals.
At the same time, the company claims the drug is only meant to be used as part of a diet and exercise regimen. Slentrol can only be prescribed by vets.
"This is an outrageous development in Big Pharma's never-ending search to find more ways to turn people and animals into revenue sources for their dangerous drugs," said Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate and holistic nutritionist. "Obese dogs don't need to be medicated, they need to be exercised and fed more nutritious foods."
"Consumers are looking for simple solutions to health-related issues for their pets," said Jeff Artzi, founder of Simply Health Pets (www.SimplyHealthyPets.com), a company offering natural nutritional supplements for dogs and cats. "The truth is that the simplest and healthiest solutions don't require 'treatment' from the drug companies. They can be prevented with proper nutrition, healthy diets and plenty of exercise."
Mark Evans, chief veterinary adviser for the UK's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), said that drugs will not help overweight pets. "Instead of covering up weight with a pill, it's vital to tackle the real reasons why so many pets are overweight," Evans said. "In most cases, a lifestyle based on a healthy reduced calorie diet and an appropriate exercise regime is all that's required to bring about weight loss."
Jane Cooper, senior scientist at the RSPCA, warned that the drug could have side effects including diarrhea and vomiting, and that these and other ailments were inflicted on the animals that the drug was tested on -- most of which were killed after the experiments were done.
"Animal lovers wouldn't like to think that other animals had suffered for
weight loss products to be available," she said.