Fido, at least, can now lose some weight

In a culture fueled by double stacks, baskets of fries and extra large soft drinks on the go, it's good to know at least Fido will be able to stay thin in 2007.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently approved the world's first weight-loss drug for your canine companions. The drug, Slentrol, should significantly reduce you pet's appetite and increase fat absorption. That means less whining from Fido for food, and less guilt from you for not complying with the beseeching.

"This is a welcome addition to animal therapies, because dog obesity appears to be increasing," said Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. "Veterinarians are well aware that overweight pets are at a higher risk of developing various health problems, from cardiovascular conditions to diabetes to joint problems."

That's right. The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. is not only increasing in the average American, according to the April 2006 publication of The Journal of the American Medical Association, it is in their pets as well.

Stomach stapling and liposuction don't seem like a viable option for our four-legged friends, but your veterinarian can prescribe the drug to your beyond-pudgy pooch.

And just in case you're wondering, a dog that weighs 20 percent more than its ideal weight is obese, according to the FDA. They go on to say approximately 5 percent of dogs in the U.S. are obese, and another 20 to 30 percent are overweight. Like all drugs, Slentrol has its risks. Side effects could include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and - gasp - a loss of appetite.

Just so you know, if you were to take it, the adverse reactions are a lot worse. I'm sure you could suffer through vomiting, diarrhea, headache and nausea to guarantee you'll fit into that skimpy swimsuit for your voyage out to Lake Havasu City this spring break, but is it worth the abdominal distention and pain? Of course, there is always another solution: diet and exercise.

A dog cannot ask for you to super-size its meal, nor can it control what it eats. That's up to you. Remember, going for a walk and taking Fido benefits both of you.