A new study has found that a high-protein, high fibre diet is beneficial for weight loss in overweight dogs.

Published in the Journal of Animal Science, the study found that the diet consumed over a 24-week period achieved a healthier weight without losing too much muscle mass, while also decreasing their insulin and serum tryglycerides, meaning less chance of heart complications.

Kelly Swanson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign animal sciences professor, who led the research, said some of the problems we see in humans with obesity also occur in pet dogs leading to a shorter lifespan and lower quality of life.

“There’s added stress on the joints, there’s an intolerance to exercise and heat; there’s also glucose intolerance, insulin resistance. And if you look at pet insurance claims, obesity is a big factor there.”

An increase in the proportion of the bacteria of the genus Allobaculum, which leads to an increase in fecal butyrate, was also observed.

Previous studies show that butyrate has anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects in the gut.

“Most studies of gut microbiota focus on humans, so the new research offers insight into the similarities and differences between dogs and humans, and how they respond to dietary changes and weight loss. More research will be needed to clarify the findings.”