GOdogs Project Investigates the Genetics of Canine Obesity

The scientists at the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories are looking for a few good—and chubby—dogs!  Their GOdogs Project is conducting cutting-edge genetic research on why certain dog breeds tend to become overweight (Labrador Retrievers, we’re talking to you!).  They also hope that this research will shed light on the genetics of human obesity.

If you own a Labrador and live near the Cambridge University Veterinary School in the UK, your dog can become an important part of this ongoing study.  The researchers also welcome input from the owners of other types of dogs.  Owners of all dog breeds can answer a questionnaire about their dog’s eating habits, and if you have a Retriever, Pug, or Bulldog, the Project is looking for DNA samples from your pup.  Click HERE to learn more about participating in the study.

The GOdogs website has lots of great information about obesity in dogs.  Did you know that between 34 and 59% of dogs can be classified as overweight?  Obesity causes significant health problems in our pets, including:

  • Joint disease
  • Heart and lung problems
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Incontinence
  • Cancer
  • Shorter lifespan

Why are so many dogs overweight?  The Project points to the modern lifestyle of pampered pets as a prime cause.  Your dog’s body stores fat as an energy reserve to draw on in times when food is scarce.  Today’s dogs aren’t running around and hunting, so a sedentary lifestyle combined with lots of food that’s high in fat and calories can lead to obesity.

The fact that some dog breeds are prone to obesity suggests that genetics play a role in this, particularly when it comes to appetite and hunger.  Previous studies on obesity in humans and other animals have shown that certain genes affect a part of the brain that controls hunger called the hypothalamus.

What about the link between genetics and obesity in dogs?  The GOdogs Project has been collecting canine eating behavior and genetic data since 2013.  In 2016 they published their first findings about a genetic cause for obesity in Labradors.  One particular gene called POMC has been found to be associated with obesity in Labradors (and flatcoated retrievers).  A quarter of UK Labs have this gene and these dogs were found to be around 4 lbs. heavier than Labs without the gene.  POMC plays a role in regulating feelings of hunger and fullness.

Whether your dog has a genetic predisposition to being overweight or not, there are practical steps you can take to manage your dog’s weight.  Check out these strategies for monitoring your dog’s weight, regulating food intake, minimizing your dog’s feelings of hunger, and making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, all courtesy of the folks at GOdogs.

 

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New Study Finds BPA in Canned Dog Food May Harm Pets

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In recent years, we’ve become much more aware of the toxins in our everyday environment. One that has gotten a lot of attention is Bisphenol A, aka BPA, a chemical found in common items like plastic water bottles, thermal paper, and can linings. BPA is described as an endocrine disruptor and it also mimics estrogen. It’s been linked to a wide range of health issues, including various reproductive-related problems and cancer.

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A recent study suggests that the canned food our pets eat may contain unsafe levels of BPA as well. Researchers conducted a study of 14 dogs who regularly ate bagged dog food. They were then fed canned food (even a so-called “BPA-free” brand) and their blood was tested. The results showed that, even after just 2 weeks on the canned food diet, their BPA levels almost tripled. The researchers were able to link the BPA to changes in the dogs’ metabolisms and in microbes in their digestive systems.

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Besides the health issues that our pets themselves might be experiencing, the researchers note that animals are also very good indicators of the health risks humans face from the various environmental contaminants that we are exposed to on a daily basis.

Check out the full story, including a link to the study, on the Time magazine website.

 

Bowled Over: What’s the Perfect Food Bowl for Your Dog?

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You’d think choosing food and water bowls for your dog would be a no-brainer, right? Just pick a style and material that you like in roughly the right size for your particular dog. It’s actually more complicated than that. Experts note that there are certain types of bowls that work best for different kinds of dogs. Here’s a quick guide to picking the best bowl for your pup, courtesy of That Pet Place:

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Long-nosed dogs: Breeds with long noses like Greyhounds, Collies, and Dachshunds can benefit from the extra room of a deep bowl with high sides.

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Short-nosed dogs: Brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Pekingese should be fed using shallow bowls. Short-sided bowls make it easier for them to reach the food and are also easier on the throat.

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Long-eared dogs: Do you have a Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniel, or Irish Setter? Choose food and water bowls with steep sides and a narrow opening to keep those long ears clean and dry.

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Tall dogs: Great Danes, Mastiffs, and other large, long-legged breeds will appreciate bowls set on raised feeder stands. They will be more comfortable and easier on the joints than bowls set on the floor. Elevated bowls are also good for three-legged dogs and dogs recovering from surgery.

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Puppies: Shallow bowls work best for puppies. A bowl with high sides could press against your little guy’s throat while he’s eating.

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Fast eaters: If your dog is a little too enthusiastic at dinnertime, consider buying a slow-feed bowl with a raised insert in the center. These bowls are designed to prevent the gulping of food and improve your dog’s digestion.

 

 

Diamond dog food salmonella recall expands

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(CBS News) The Diamond Pet Foods voluntary recall on some of their pet food brands has been expanded after a salmonella outbreak in one of their plants left 14 people sick in nine states.

The dog food in question was was manufactured in Gaston, S.C. plant. At least five people were hospitalized from handling the food, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Associated Press.

On the official website for the recall, Diamond Pet Foods added dog food under the Country Value, Diamond, Premium Edge, Professional, 4Health and Taste of the Wild brands with a 2 or 3 in the 9th position of the production code and an X in the 10th or 11th position. The “best before” dates are between December 9, 2012 and April 7, 2013. They were distributed in a variety of eastern, southern, central and Midwest states, as well as parts of Canada, but may appear in other states.

Diamond Naturals (particularly the Lamb & Rice dry dog formula), Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul Adult Light Formula and Diamond Puppy Formula had already been recalled in April 2011 after a random sampling showed that some of their food tested positive for Salmonella.

Some companies that co-manufacture with Diamond Pet Foods have also pulled their products, including Natural BalanceKirkland Signature/Kirkland Signature Nature’s DomainApex Pet FoodsCanidae Pet Foods and one type of Wellness Complete Health puppy food. The companies claim it is a precaution because no pet or human illnesses have been reported in association with these brands nor has sample testing shown that any of their bags have Salmonella.

Reuters reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating the outbreak. The infection is possibly from people touching the dog food and then touching their own food, cross-contamination with products that touched the tainted pet food or from direct contact from a dog that had a Salmonella infection.

According to Cornell University, salmonella poisoning in humans can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain/colic or cramps and diarrhea. People may experience moderate fevers and chills. The elderly and young, those with decreased gastric acidity, those with altered gastrointestinal bacteria, those who are immunosuppressed HIV patients and those whose bowel movements are decreased are at higher risk.

Pets with salmonella infections can also experience similar symptoms to infected humans, according to the Diamond Pet Foods press release. They may be lethargic or not want to eat. There is a danger with pets who are infected by do not display symptoms, however, because they may spread the disease to other humans or animals.

If symptoms are noticed, people are urged to call their healthcare providers or veterinarians for their pets.