Labrador and Golden Retriever owners help combat canine obesity

Over one third of pet dogs are classed as obese, with some breeds, like Labradors and Golden Retrievers, being more predisposed to weight problems than others. With this in mind, a new study by GOdogs is looking to investigate whether genetics plays a part in canine obesity – and is asking dog owners to get involved.

 

GOdogs wants to recruit 100 lean and 100 overweight dogs from both the Labrador and Golden Retriever breeds, as they seem to “have a greater tendency to eat more than they need to maintain a healthy bodyweight”. Joining the GOdogs research programme requires your dog to have a saliva sample taken, which is quick and painless. Your dog will be weighed and ‘condition scored’ and you’ll be asked to answer a questionnaire about your dog’s health.

Plenty of exercise can help keep your dog at a healthy weight Photograph copyright of The Mighty Pooch

Plenty of exercise can help keep your dog at a healthy weight
Photograph copyright of The Mighty Pooch

If you have a genetically lean dog (ie a dog who regulates their own weight rather than having an owner who is very strict about diet/exercise) or an overweight or obese dog and would like to be involved in the study, visit http://www.godogs.org.uk/

Canine obesity causes a range of health problems, including cancer, joint disease, heart and breathing difficulties, diabetes and a shorter life span. In fact, according to GOdogs, Labradors who have been kept on a restricted diet throughout their lives have been known to live two years longer than overweight Labradors. And, according to the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, between 60 and 70% of the owners of overweight dogs don’t think their dogs have a weight issue at all.

For those with severely overweight dogs, James Howie, veterinary adviser to Lintbells, provides advice on the Kennel Club’s website, saying, “For dogs that are severely overweight, there are special prescription diets that restrict the calories but ensure other nutrients. These usually need to be fed according to a strict regime and most veterinary practices offer a weight-watching clinic service to help with this with weekly or monthly weigh-ins. Many will offer the same service to animals that aren’t on a special diet too. Having a defined goal and regular checks will often lead to a much higher level of success.”

Most weight-loss advice for dogs follows the simple premise we humans are familiar with – eat less and move more. Check your dog for canine obesity against this body condition chart for guidance.

Words: Aislinn Kelly

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