Slentrol (dirlotapide) is the “diet pill” for dogs from Pfizer, Inc. It was the first of its kind to be approved by the FDA in January of 2007.
You can read more about Slentrol here. Dirlotapide belongs to a class of drugs that inhibit microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (MTP). The exact mechanism of these MTP inhibitors in weight loss is not fully understood but appears to be from appetite suppression (makes pets feel full and stops them from begging for more food) and decreased fat absorption.
Studies have shown sufficient weight loss results to warrant us keeping Slentrol in our arsenal of weight management strategy. However, it should only be considered after the tried-and-true diet and exercise regimen has failed. A full medical work-up for underlying medical conditions should also be done before reaching for Slentrol.
Side effects reported by the manufacturers and veterinarians who’ve prescribed the drug include:
Soft stool or diarrhea
Poor appetite (although, I would have thought that was the desired effect with this drug?)
Intermittent elevations in liver enzymes
These signs resolve over time or with the discontinuation of the drug.
Studies indicated that approximately 90% of the resulting weight loss was due to enhanced satiety and reduced food intake as opposed to caloric loss due to fat malabsorption. Hence, there seems to be little concern for loss of fat-soluble vitamins as with the lipase inhibitor Orlistat.
Slentrol is intended for intermittent or limited duration use only at this point in time. No long term studies have been done yet. The idea is to use Slentrol as part of the weight management plan. Caregivers learn the normal food portions and dogs learn to stop begging. The effects of Slentrol is gone within days of stopping the drug. Appetite will return and so will the pounds if family members have not learned the lifestyle changes to keep the weight off their dogs.
As with our own weight loss struggles, significant weight (re)gain was noted if caregivers fall off the weight loss plan and return to the pre-Slentrol feeding habits. Without the appetite suppressing effect of Slentrol, the once-fat-but-now-slim dog may easily eat everything that is offered and pack back those pounds.
Your pet’s long-term weight loss success still depends on you and your understanding that, in most cases, you have control over your pet’s diet and exercise. Your dog needs you, not Slentrol, to reach and stay at a healthy weight.
If you still think Slentrol is right for your dog, talk to your family veterinarian. Be prepare with information on the current diet, amount fed, exercise level, etc… to help your family veterinarian assess all weight management options and decide if Slentrol is truly indicated for your dog.