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      On The Risk of Muscle Loss and Nutritional Deficiencies For Dogs on Weight Loss Diets


      Offering the last bite of table scraps to your furry friend is not such a great idea. It has been estimated that 55.8% of dogs in the United States and 59.5% cats are either overweight or obese [1]. Overweight or obese dogs face an elevated risk of developing many diseases such as heart disease [2], inflammatory diseases [3], type 2 diabetes [3], and osteoarthritis [4]. For cats that are overweight or obese, some of the challenges they will face are increased risks of developing hepatic lipidosis [5] and urinary diseases [6]. For many popular breeds of dogs such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds, and Beagles, a reduction of 2 years or more in life span can result from being overweight or obese [7].


      Not surprisingly, general practice veterinarians spend a lot of time every day counseling pet parents on weight reduction strategies for their four-legged friends.  According to a study published by researchers at the University of Melbourne [8], veterinarians attribute the main causes of canine obesity to overfeeding, treat feeding, and commercial pet food. Reducing food along with treats and changing the diet are the most common strategies that veterinarians typically employ to help dogs lose weight [8].


      While these weight loss strategies typically yield results, the downside is that dogs frequently lose a significant degree of muscle mass along with fat mass. In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Liverpool and the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, 33 dogs that successfully completed a weight loss program were followed for several years afterwards to monitor weight regain. The median weight loss for these dogs was 21.3%. However, the average decrease in lean mass was 16%. Thus, it was clear that not only did these dogs lose fat mass, they also lost muscle mass while participating in their weight loss program. Further, veterinarians at North Carolina State University reported that commercial weight loss diets put dogs at risk for developing deficiencies in essential nutrients such as choline, methionine, cysteine, selenium, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), docosahexanoic acid (DHA), riboflavin, pantothenic acid and cobalamin [9].


      The nutritional supplement Fortetropin can likely address both muscle and nutritional deficiencies during weight loss. Made from 100% fertilized, chicken egg yolk, Fortetropin is processed using a proprietary, low temperature process to maintain the bioactivity of the peptides, proteins and lipids that are found within egg yolk.  In a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trial that was conducted on Fortetropin at the the University of California, Berkeley, it was reported that Fortetropin supplementation led to an increase in the rate of muscle protein synthesis by ~18% in 60–75-year-old men and women [10]. However, Fortetropin has been studied extensively in Veterinary Clinicals trial in addition to Human Clinical Trials.


      One of the most important veterinary clinical studies conducted involving Fortetropin took place at Kansas State University and involved 100 dogs recovering from TPLO surgery [11]. One of the most common surgical procedures in the United States, TPLO surgery is performed to repair tears of the canine cruciate ligament (CCL) and requires the dog to keep their operate limb immobilized for several weeks following surgery. This immobilization of the limb typically results in significant muscle loss. It was found that dogs that were supplemented with Fortetropin did not experience statistically significant decreases in quadriceps muscle thickness 8 weeks following surgery. Dogs that were supplemented with a macronutrient-matched, cheese powder placebo did experience a statistically significant decrease in muscle thickness during that period. Fortetropin is also a natural source of key nutrients such as choline, methionine, cysteine, selenium, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and cobalamin that dogs undergoing a weight loss program have a high risk of developing nutritional deficiencies for, as discussed earlier.


      With more than half of cats and dogs in the United States being overweight or obese, weight management is an important area of focus for general practice veterinarians. When dogs are placed on a commercial weight loss diet, they are likely to lose muscle mass in addition to fat mass and are at an elevated risk of developing deficiencies for key essential nutrients. Supplementing a weight loss diet with Fortetropin has the potential to address both of these challenges associated with weight loss.




      1. Pitofsky, M. “Have you tried to help your pet lose weight? You aren't alone as most cats and dogs in the US are overweight.” USA Today, March 12, 2019.
      2. Thengchaisri, Naris, et al. "Abdominal obesity is associated with heart disease in dogs." BMC Veterinary Research10.1 (2014): 1-7.
      3. German, A. J., et al. "Improvement in insulin resistance and reduction in plasma inflammatory adipokines after weight loss in obese dogs." Domestic animal endocrinology37.4 (2009): 214-226.
      4. Marshall, W. G., et al. "A review of osteoarthritis and obesity: current understanding of the relationship and benefit of obesity treatment and prevention in the dog." Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology22.05 (2009): 339-345.
      5. Washabau, Robert J., and Michael J. Day. Canine and Feline Gastroenterology-e-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2012.
      6. Lund, Elizabeth M., et al. "Prevalence and risk factors for obesity in adult cats from private US veterinary practices." Intern J Appl Res Vet Med3.2 (2005): 88-96.
      7. Salt, Carina, et al. "Association between life span and body condition in neutered client‐owned dogs." Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine33.1 (2019): 89-99.
      8. German, A. J., et al. "Long-term follow-up after weight management in obese dogs: the role of diet in preventing regain." The veterinary journal192.1 (2012): 65-70.
      9. Gaylord, L., R. Remillard, and K. Saker. "Risk of nutritional deficiencies for dogs on a weight loss plan." Journal of Small Animal Practice59.11 (2018): 695-703.
      10. Evans, William, et al. "Effects of Fortetropin on the Rate of Muscle Protein Synthesis in Older Men and Women: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Study." The Journals of Gerontology: Series A76.1 (2021): 108-114.
      11. White, Dana A., et al. "Fortetropin inhibits disuse muscle atrophy in dogs after tibial plateau leveling osteotomy." Plos one15.4 (2020): e0231306.



      About the author:

      Dr. Padliya has served as Vice President, R&D at MYOS Corporation since 2013 during which time he has managed human and veterinary clinical programs in addition to preclinical studies with leading universities and CROs to study the impact of nutrition products on sarcopenia, muscle disuse atrophy and cancer cachexia in humans and animals.  He provides scientific oversight to MYOS' Animal Health Business, working closely with leading Veterinarians and Veterinary Researchers across the United States to leverage the extensive research behind the advanced nutrition product, Fortetropin®.

      Fortetropin® can be found exclusively in products manufactured by MYOS Corp. Their products, MYOS Canine Muscle Formula® and MYOS Feline Formula are available at