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Dog Overeating – Which Breeds Are High-Risk?
Let’s hope for the opposite, people do not enter this world on a level playing field. Even if we leave out complex socioeconomic issues, there’s an inequity lurking in our medical charts: some of us are genetically predisposed to medical problems like heart disease and some cancers. A study from Harvard’s School of Public Health suggests that our genes may even make some of us more likely to be obese*.
Genetic injustice does not end with homo sapiens. Our canine companions may also be genetically predisposed to certain disorders due to breeding practices. Over countless generations, dog enthusiasts have created different breeds by selecting and breeding only dogs that exhibited certain desired characteristics, such as certain coat colors and facial shapes. This selective breeding for attractive traits has depleted genetic diversity and left gaps in the genetic maps of individual dogs.
For example, the intensive breeding required to produce Dalmatians’ stunning spots has also made them genetically predisposed to diseases such as kidney stones and deafness. Likewise, poodles are loved around the world for their beautiful, hypoallergenic fur and intelligence. Unfortunately, the rigorous breeding to meet the demand for these popular pooches has also made poodles the most disease-prone breed: they are linked to 145 genetically influenced disorders.
Obesity is no exception. In many cases, the causes of obesity are self-explanatory: as with humans, if a dog eats too much and exercises too little, it is likely to be overweight. In addition, poor quality dog foods that are low in protein can promote overeating because dogs need to eat more to feel full. Most cases of canine obesity are rooted in these causes.
However, some dog breeds are more likely to gain weight for the reasons listed below. If you’re worried because your adorable puppy’s breed is listed, be careful: we’ve also listed techniques to prevent weight gain or, if it’s too late to prevent it, to help your dog shed excess pounds.
Chow Hounds: Breeds likely to eat quickly
A quick review of the history of the dog species explains why some dogs practically inhale their food. Many experts believe that dogs separated into a separate species about 15,000 years ago when certain wolves decided to enter a new niche created by humans, living near easy food supplies in garbage dumps. Under these circumstances, it made sense for dogs to eat quickly so that they could eat as much food as possible before competing dogs or predators appeared.
Today, the original benefit of fast consumption has been replaced by problems with obesity and bloat in dogs. Obesity occurs when owners often assume their dog is still hungry, leading to overfeeding. Gastric torsion, or canine bloat, is a much more immediately serious disorder in which a dog sucks in air with food, causing the stomach to twist in on itself and block the exits, even though digestion is still releasing more gas. Due to the deep, narrow chests of breeds such as Collies and Saint Bernards, they are more likely to suffer from bloat. Other fast eaters include large breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Basset Hounds, Rottweilers, and any dog that had to worry about food being taken away as a puppy. Keep in mind that any breed can eat too quickly; monitor your dog’s eating habits to see if he is overeating.
How to Slow a Chow Hound Down
? Set a consistent feeding schedule and stick to it. Many veterinarians recommend two feedings a day, morning and evening. Record how much you usually feed your dog each day and check with your vet that this is the right amount. Avoid giving your dog table scraps and other people’s treats.
Create an obstacle in the bowl for your dog. Some owners and vets recommend placing a tennis ball or large rock in your dog’s bowl to slow down eating. Other, more aesthetic solutions, such as the DogPause Bowl, use the same principle to simply but effectively slow down a dog’s eating regimen. These bowls have half cup dividers in the bowl to keep your pup from having to work to get to the food.
Dog energy: Breeds that need a lot of exercise
Some dogs were specially bred for work. Shepherds were bred to, for example, run around herding sheep all day. So it’s no surprise that working dogs like German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers and Beagles put on extra weight when they don’t get daily exercise.
How to get your four-legged friend back to a healthy weight:
Get out and play. Half an hour of exercise is a good idea for all dogs, regardless of size. Your dog may need more – some vets recommend that you walk your dog one city block for every ten pounds of weight. Talk to your vet about the recommended amount of exercise for your pup to see if his or her breed may need a little extra time to stay in shape.
~Ben Anton, 2008
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