Diets high in protein and fiber may be best for overweight dogs, study finds

Photo (c) Carol Yepes - Getty Images

Experts say that dogs respond similarly to humans to these positive diet changes

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign explored some of the dietary changes that can help overweight dogs. According to their findings, sticking to a diet that it’s high in both protein and fiber can help heavier dogs reach a healthy weight and improve their overall health outcomes. 

“Some of the problems we see in humans with obesity also occur in pet dogs,” said researcher Kelly Swanson. “There’s added stress on the joints, there’s an intolerance to exercise and heat; there’s also glucose intolerance, insulin resistance. And if you look at pet insurance claims, obesity is a big factor there.” 

Making healthier diet choices for dogs

To better understand how a different diet may impact overweight dogs, the researchers tested how a diet that was high in protein and fiber impacted important health outcomes, including physical activity, blood metabolites, and body composition. There were 12 female dogs involved in the study, and they were fed high-protein and high-fiber diets over the course of 24 weeks. 

The researchers learned that these dietary changes were beneficial for the dogs. They lost more than 31% of their body weight by the end of the study, and their fat percentage decreased by 3.1 kilograms on average. 

The diet also led to benefits in other important health outcomes, including lower levels of triglycerides and insulin. Similar to humans who struggle with obesity, the researchers explained that these health markers are significant for overweight dogs.

The researchers found that a high-protein and high-fiber diet also helped the dogs get to a healthy weight while maintaining their muscle mass. As the dogs lost weight and became healthier, their inflammation also improved.

Moving forward, the researchers hope consumers understand how their dogs’ diets can influence their long-term health outcomes. For overweight dogs, incorporating more protein and fiber can help improve overall health and wellness.

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