Director Helen Dobieski's rescued Lab Helen, who stars in 2 films in the Dog Film Festival, sponsored in part by Halo

Director Helen Dobieski’s rescued Lab Helen, who stars in 2 films in the Dog Film Festival, sponsored in part by Halo

Are Labs Fatter than Other Dogs?

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! You need to be aware that your Lab is “at risk” for obesity and obesity is actually a serious medical condition and can shorten  a dog’s life. Dr Donna Spector and I discussed how “Fat Dogs Die Younger” on our show The Expert Vet 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 Hotchner
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