Labrador and Golden retrievers have a predisposition towards obesity and many retriever owners will tell you their dogs are particularly greedy. But why? A new study is trying to answer that question and they need your help!
The GOdogs project is being run by Eleanor Raffan, a vet and geneticist working at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Metabolic Science.
Eleanor says: “canine obesity is emerging as a significant threat to dogs’ health and welfare, with obesity being associated with the development of all manner of diseases from breathing problems to arthritis and diabetes to cancer.”
It is obvious that obesity develops when animals eat more calories than they burn up each day. However, it is not known why some individuals eat and beg for food to the point of obesity whilst others remain lean. The fact that some breeds, such as Labradors and golden retrievers, are predisposed to obesity makes us believe their genes are to blame.
Research in humans suggests that genes governing appetite are important but there is much to learn and little work has been carried out in dogs. If we can find a genetic reason why Labradors are greedy, it will offer benefits to them, other dog breeds and human medical science too.
GOdogs needs your help! Participating is very simple – GOdogs require a saliva sample from each dog, that the dog is ‘condition scored’ and weighed by a vet or nurse, and owners will be asked to fill out a questionnaire. They are particularly keen to recruit dogs over 5 years old who are either lean or markedly overweight. Lots of local practices are signed up to the project and participation is free.