L-Carnitine Effects in Overweight Dogs

Food For Thought™ Technical Bulletin No. 126R

Innovative Research in Dog and Cat Nutrition™

  • What is L-Carnitine?
  • How Does L-Carnitine Work?
  • L-Carnitine Effects in Overweight Dogs
  • What is L-Carnitine?

    Carnitine, or L-carnitine, is a vitamin-like compound made in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. It is found in animal-based, not plant-based, sources of protein. It has been used to help with fat metabolism in other species and recent scientific work indicates that it helps reduce weight in overweight dogs and cats.

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    How Does L-Carnitine Work?

    This water-soluble substance attaches to fatty acids, transporting them into cellular mitochondria (part of the cell that converts fat into a usable form of energy) where they are broken down through oxidation and converted to energy for all tissues including the heart, liver and skeletal muscles. Through this process, carnitine helps reduce storage of body fat and the amount of fat in the blood stream.

    L-Carnitine Process

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    L-Carnitine Effects in Overweight Dogs

    In a study conducted by The Iams Company, overweight dogs were fed similar diets. One group was given a diet supplemented with L-carnitine while another group received a diet without supplemental L-carnitine. After 7 weeks, the group that received the diet without supplemental L-carnitine lost 1.8% body weight compared to 6.4% body weight loss from the group that was fed the L-carnitine supplemented diet. Likewise, body fat was reduced in each group by 2.4% and 4.6%, respectively. 1

    Weight Loss After 7 Weeks

    Body Fat Loss After 7 Weeks

    Thus, L-carnitine promotes loss of body weight and body fat in overweight dogs.

    Research in overweight cats suggest that L-carnitine may help accelerate weight loss. 2

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    1 Sunvold GD, Tetrick MA, Davenport GM, Bouchard GF. "Carnitine supplementation promotes weight loss and decreased adiposity in the canine." Proceedings of the XXIII World Small Animal Veterinary Association. p.746. October, 1998

    2 Center, SA. Safe weight loss in cats. In: Reinhart GA, Carey DP, eds. Recent Advances in Canine and Feline Nutrition Volume II: 1998 Iams Nutrition Symposium Proceedings. Wilmington, Ohio: Orange Frazer Press, 1998; 165-181.