Scientists have discovered why Labradors are more hungry and fat than other dogs

Scientists have discovered why Labradors are more hungry and fat than other dogs

Dogs often ask their owners for treats. And, it seems, Labradors are one of the hungriest four-legged friends!

Researchers found outwhy this breed is prone to fullness – and it is not a matter of willpower at all.

Scientists earlier discovered a mutation in a gene called POMC (proopiomelanocortin) that predisposes dogs to obesitywrites The Guardian.

The mutated variant occurs in about a quarter of Labrador retrievers and in two-thirds of straight-coated retrievers (but it has a stronger effect in the former).

Now researchers have explained another genetic regularity: dogs with a mutation are not the only ones more hungry between feedings, but also burn fewer calories at rest

“These dogs have a double problem”– says the head of the study Eleanor Raffan from the University of Cambridge.

The team described the findings in the journal Science Advances on March 6.

The research took place in two stages, to which dogs with a mutation in the gene were involved POMC and without. 36 adult Labradors took part in the first stage.

The dogs were fed breakfast, and after three hours they were shown a transparent box containing a sausage. The animals were allowed to approach the box – and they tried to pull out the treat through small holes in the lid.

It turned out that dogs with the POMC mutation spent much less time resting or exploring the room, instead spending more time trying to get a treat.

“The dogs with the mutation were much more focused on the sausage”he says Eleanor.


24 Labradors were involved in the next stage of the test. This stage showedthat immediately after feeding all dogs were equally full and their “hedonic reactions” to feeding did not differ (dogs with the gene mutation did not enjoy food more than others).

After overnight fasting, dogs were offered wet food every 20 minutes. Regardless of genetics, they voluntarily consumed the same amount of food – about 2 kg in total.

Although dogs without mutations POMCs were significantly more likely to regurgitate food. Scientists explained this by the fact that the dogs participating in the study “have a genetically determined difference in tolerance to large portions of food.”

The team also analyzed how many calories the dogs burned at rest. Slender and healthy dogs aged 2 to 7 years were examined.

The results showed that dogs with two copies of the mutation burned about 25% fewer calories than dogs without it.

“This explains the link between the particularly active foraging caused by hunger and the obesity seen with this mutation.”says the study.

Therefore, Labradors with the mutation may need smaller portions for a healthy life than their relatives without the altered gene.

In addition to a tendency to obesity, the POMC mutation leads to decrease in blood pressure Labradors.

However, in dogs participating in the study, most indicators were within the normal range, regardless of genotype. Scientists say this was to be expected, as most of them were at a healthy weight or only slightly overweight.

The study helped to better understand how much genes can influence eating behavior. However, the researchers assure: a mutation in the gene that makes you drool is not a sentence for Labradors.

“We know that there are many owners who take very good care of their dogs and manage to keep them at a healthy weight with a lot of effort”– says Raffan.

We will remind, previously veterinarians explained, how to properly feed dogs and what diet to choose.

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