Pfizer's Slentrol: Canine obesity begone!
It’s the miracle we’ve all been waiting for! And damned if our dogs don’t get to it first. I’m, of course, talking about the pet weight loss drug that’s made headlines across this great nation’s front page fluff corners. (We love our dogs but let’s face it, they’ll never get top billing—even with a magic diet drug story.)
For those of you hiding under a rock since yesterday, let me be the first to inform you: Pfizer has created Slentrol, a new weight loss liquid drug for dogs designed to inhibit fat absorption and curb your dog’s appetite. It will make it easier for you to help your obese dog lose weight by reducing the frequency of pleading looks and sad-eyed, dog-bowl moments—for only $1 to $2 a day!
I’m sure my regular readers can predict my reaction to Pfizer’s widespread proclamations on their newest blockbuster drug and the FDA’s statements supporting (defending?) their approval. In a word: unnecessary—for pets, that is. I mean, how hard is it to feed your dog less?
The problem here is that while—in theory—weight control in dogs is really not all that difficult, the same issues that hinder weight loss in humans extends to our adoptive children. We know how much we suffer in keeping our weight down so it’s no wonder we’re unwilling to extend the same suffering to our pets.
From a vet’s point of view, the psychology is laid bare daily as obese clients walk through our doors with their obese dogs. Active, slender clients sport trim, weight-watched pets. The latter listen carefully, on the edges of their seats, to any recommendation on their pets’ weight status while the former group’s eyes glaze over.
There’s no value judgment implied here. It’s just obvious to me that the level of suffering we’re willing to endure for our own weight is directly proportional to the level of perceived suffering we’re willing to inflict on our pets. Overweight people tend to suffer more as they attempt to control their weight, therefore…
You may well read the above paragraphs and conclude that it’s not really a vet’s place to comment on her human clients’ health or apply pop psychology truisms to how they perceive their pets. But, in this case (and indeed in many others), how my clients think is essential to achieving good results when it comes to my patients’ care. After all, this drug is only medically necessary because of how my clients feel about their pets—not because it’s the best way to deal with canine obesity.
Time and time again, we hear experts in human health expound on the virtues of the ideal weight loss program: eat less, exercise more. Does that mean that the medical community is unwilling to offer gastric bypasses if that’s what it takes to keep people free from obesity-related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease? Of course not. Do what it takes is our culture’s new medical mantra. And I won’t disagree when it comes to our pets.
That is, as long as we don’t damage our pets in the process. The risk-reward schema carefully evaluated by the FDA with respect to drug safety and efficacy is in place to help ensure that as few pets as possible suffer snake-oil side-effects. But some will, as no drug is completely side-effect free. Diarrhea, vomiting and other GI effects may result in a percentage of dogs.
I don’t know the details of the drug’s actions and interactions so don’t pepper me with questions on specifics yet. Rest assured, however, that Pfizer will present this new drug to vets with their usual aplomb as we all sit around a gleaming table at Miami’s finest steakhouse—discussing diarrhea and fat absorption as we chew. I’m already salivating in Pavlovian expectation and smiling at the delicious irony of it all.