U.S. health officials have approved the first obesity drug aimed at treating Americans' increasingly plump pooches, the Food and Drug Administration said on Friday.
The drug, Pfizer Inc'.s Slentrol, helps decrease appetite and fat absorption to help the roughly 5 percent of U.S. dogs that are obese lose weight, the FDA said. Another 20 percent to 30 percent are overweight, it added.
Also known as dirlotapide, the drug can also cause various side effects, including vomiting, loose stools, diarrhea and lethargy.
"This is a welcome addition to animal therapies because dog obesity appears to be increasing," said Stephen Sundlof, head of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
Like their human counterparts, overweight dogs are also at risk for developing diabetes, heart trouble, joint problems and other complications, the FDA said.
At the same time, two-thirds of Americans are also overweight or obese, government statistics show. But Slentrol is not for human use and will carry warnings to discourage people from using it, the FDA said.
The drug will only be available through veterinarians, the FDA said, and will be given at various doses. Pfizer recommends use of Slentrol for three months, according to the agency.
Representatives for Pfizer could not be immediately reached for comment.