Body Composition

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Percent body fat can be measured by Dual Energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) or MRI and with these techniques, segmentation of visceral and subcutaneous fat in the dog is feasible. A further advantage of these imaging techniques is that repeated assessments in the same animal are feasible for longitudinal study designs. The obese dogs, having stabilized to their increased body weight, were given DEXA scans and then placed on a restricted diet in which food intake was reduced by 15% for 3 months.

The figures below illustrate changes in body composition and blood chemistry following dietary manipulation. (A) Reducing caloric intake for 3 months led to marked reduction in total body fat and a much smaller reduction in lean mass as measured using DEXA imaging. (B) Secondary measures of clinical chemistry revealed this dietary restriction regimen to significantly reduce blood cholesterol and glucose levels compared to baseline.

Change in Body Composition in Obese Dogs following 3 Months of Caloric Restriction.

Representative data showing how measures of blood chemistry change following a period of reduced food intake. In this experiment, the dogs were all obese at baseline, with body fat being greater than 25% of total body mass. ** = significant <.01 (T-test; two tailed).