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  • Author or Editor: Bente M. Stallknecht x
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OBJECTIVE To investigate whether a controlled physical training plan for overweight dogs during a weight loss program would improve cardiorespiratory fitness and better preserve lean body mass, compared with results for dogs undergoing a weight loss program based on caloric restriction alone.

DESIGN Prospective, nonrandomized clinical study.

ANIMALS 19 client-owned overweight or obese dogs.

PROCEDURES All dogs were fed the same calorie-restricted diet rationed to achieve a weight loss rate of 1% to 2%/wk for 12 weeks. The fitness-and-diet (FD) group participated in a training program that included underwater and land-based treadmill exercise 3 times/wk. The diet-only (DO) group had no change in exercise routines. Daily activity before and during the intervention was recorded by accelerometry. Before and after intervention, heart rate during exercise was recorded to assess cardiovascular fitness, and body composition was analyzed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Differences between groups were evaluated with t tests and multiple regression analysis.

RESULTS Mean weight loss was 13.9% and 12.9% for the FD and DO groups, respectively (n = 8 dogs/group that completed the study). Mean accelerometer counts during intervention were 13% higher than baseline counts for the FD group. Heart rate during exercise declined after intervention in both groups. Lean body mass was preserved in the FD group and lost in the DO group during intervention.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE The controlled exercise plan used with a dietary weight loss program prevented loss of lean body mass in dogs. This finding supports inclusion of controlled physical training for obesity management in dogs.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association