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New Drug Can Help Fat Fido Shed Pounds

A whopping 66 percent of American are overweight. But people are not the only ones fighting the battle of the bulge: as many as 40 percent of our pets are fat. Now there is a new way to help man's best friend trim down.

"Obesity in pets can cause or worsen heart and lung disease, arthritis, even diabetes. But it's hard to refuse Fido those treats when he begs so cutely," explains The Early Show's resident veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner. "A new diet drug for dogs is now available through your veterinarian that may help your pet win the war on weight."

Dan Baine's yellow Lab Josh doesn't feel much like running mainly because he is 25 pounds overweight. Dan has tried just about everything to get the pounds off.

"We started exercising him," Dan says. "He has a fenced in yard where he can play. He has a swimming pool where he can swim. I just don't think there's enough hours in the day to get him to lose the weight the conventional way."

That's when veterinarian Dr. Joshua Furman told Dan about a new diet drug called Slentrol.

Slentrol is formulated specifically for dogs. It works by telling the dog's brain it is not hungry. Therefore he eats less.

"I really think this drug is going to revolutionize veterinary medicine. It's the first FDA approved drug for canine obesity," Dr. Furman explains.

There are side effects like diarrhea and vomiting. But vets report these symptoms tend to be minor and short term.

"It's not a simple, give this dog a pill and he's going to be skinny," says Dr. Deirdre Chiaramonte, who is cautiously optimistic about the effectiveness of Slentrol.

The drug does not cure obesity for life. "In fact, as soon as the drug is removed, within 48 hours their appetite is back again to where it was," Dr. Chiaramonte explains.

Which means pet owners like Dan must be committed to lifelong changes

"It's retraining everybody involved with it. It's keeping pets coming back for weigh ins. It's keeping animals busy, exercising. Following up," Chiaramonte says.

So far, after three weeks on Slentrol, Josh hasn't lost weight yet. In fact, he has gained a couple of pounds. But Dr. Furman is not discouraged.

"My goal is to have a tremendous amount of weight off of Josh in eight months and make his quality of life a lot better," he says.

Furman is confident the drug is going to work. "If I didn't then I wouldn't use it," he says.

In fact, Slentrol showed 100 percent effectiveness in clinical trials. Which means this could be a powerful tool to help vets fight obesity.