Are you one of those lucky people who shares his life with a loving Labrador Retriever – but you lament the chubbiness of your Lab because you know how unhealthy it is for a dog to gain weight? Have you accepted that common belief that Labs will “eat until they explode” and are always on the hunt to counter-surf or otherwise steal food and they always seem hungry?
Do you have to be super vigilant to carefully measure your Lab’s food intake and count calories – but the dog still keeps “expanding?”
Do you Battle the Bulge around your Lab’s neck and body – and feel guilty that it’s your fault?
Have you suspected that somebody else in your household or neighborhood must be slipping high calorie treats to your dog behind your back?
You’re not alone! Most everyone who has America’s most popular dog breed has come to accept their dog as naturally pudgy and basically given up on achieving the ideal body condition where the dog has a waist when seen from above and you can feel some of his ribs.
But a scientific study from England shows that a fat Lab is not your fault! It’s not your dog’s fault, either!
Cambridge University researchers who studied the canine genome found a mutation in the POMC gene that was associated with weight gain in Labradors and flat-coated retrievers. The findings did not apply to other breeds. The data, published in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism, may shed light on obesity in people, as POMC is one of numerous genes linked to human obesity, and in some cases a similar mutation to the sequence deletion seen in dogs has been documented.
This doesn’t mean you should throw up your hands and throw in the towel! One way to make a difference is to focus on burning more calories, by increasing your Lab’s daily exercise following your own vet’s advice. You need to be aware that your Lab is “at risk” for obesity and obesity is actually a serious medical condition that can shorten a dog’s life. Dr Donna Spector and I discussed how “Fat Dogs Die Younger” on our show The Expert Vet which is sponsored by Halo. We’d welcome any chubby Labs to join our Halo Healthy Weight Challenge and have Dr. Donna devise a personalized diet utilizing Halo’s Weight Management dry food, canned food, and vegetable snacks to change your feeding habits, help your dog shed weight slowly but surely. Your Labrador may have that pesky POMC gene, but you can help your dog get slim and stay slim so you can enjoy the best possible life together.
Tracie began her fascination with dogs and cats by turning her eye as a former investigative reporter on every aspect of living with them, resulting in her encyclopedic resources THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and then the THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. Before long, Tracie was established as a leading pet wellness advocate as her all-encompassing books covered everything from medical issues to behavior, nutrition and environmental enrichment.
Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.
Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.