Diet plays a central role in your dog’s overall health and well-being, and it stands to reason that you want to provide your dog the best possible source of nutrition in the dog food you choose. But some nutrients, like L-Carnitine, may be unfamiliar or completely foreign. Learn more about this vitamin-like compound and how it can help your dog maintain a healthy weight.
What Is L-Carnitine?
Carnitine, or L-carnitine, is a vitamin-like compound made in the body from amino acids. It's found naturally only in animal-based protein sources. It has been used to help with fat metabolism in other species, and recent scientific studies show that it can help reduce weight in overweight dogs.
How Does L-Carnitine Work?
This water-soluble substance attaches to fatty acids, transporting them into cellular mitochondria, the part of the cell that converts fat into a usable form of energy. There, 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 the storage of body fat and the amount of fat in the bloodstream.
Can L-Carnitine Help Reduce Weight 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 seven 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 The study found that L-carnitine promotes loss of body weight and body fat in overweight dogs.
IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Healthy Weight is formulated with L-carnitine that helps turn fat into energy, providing a path to help keep him fit for life.
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.
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Keeping Your Senior Dog Healthy and Active
It depends on the breed of dog, but your pet's senior years generally begin at age 7. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), tells you what you need to know to keep your older dog spry and happy.
Senior Dog Health: Preventive Health
At this stage, Murray recommends taking your dog to the vet twice a year. "So much can happen to an elderly dog," she says. Your veterinarian can take blood annually to test liver and kidney functions. "Discovering problems early is extremely important," she says. Your vet can be on the lookout for conditions that often affect older dogs, such as anemia and arthritis.
Senior Dog Health: Urination, Bowel Movements, and Appetite
Pay attention to what might be subtle changes in your dog's habits: Is she drinking more water or urinating larger amounts? These behaviors might indicate a liver or kidney problem. Have your dog's bowel movements shifted? This could indicate a digestive issue. Diabetes or digestive problems might cause your dog to eat more but still lose weight. Knowing the dog's patterns can help the veterinarian determine a course of treatment.
Senior Dog Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines
Continue to use preventive medicines.
Senior Dog Health: Dental Health
Clean your dog's teeth daily. If she has tartar buildup, you might need to have her teeth professionally cleaned at your vet's office, which requires sedating your pet.
Senior Dog Health: Exercise
Your dog is probably less active, so steady, moderate exercise is best for her now. Don't turn her into a "weekend warrior" who, after lying around on weekdays, accompanies you on a 10-mile hike on Saturdays. This is especially hard on an older dog's joints.
Senior Dog Health: Diet
Your veterinarian might wish to put your dog on a senior diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Senior Plus. These formulations contain nutrients specifically geared toward older-dog health.
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