Hope for the opposite as we may, humans don’t enter this world on an even playing field. Even excluding complex socioeconomic issues, inequality lurks in our medical charts: some of us are genetically predisposed for medical issues such as heart disease and certain cancers. A study from Harvard’s School of Public health suggests that our genes even make some of us more likely to be obese*.
The genetic injustice doesn’t stop with homo sapiens. Our canine companions can be genetically fated for certain disorders as well due to breeding practices. Over countless generations, dog enthusiasts created the various breeds by selecting and breeding only dogs that displayed certain desired traits, such as certain coat colors and face shapes. This selective breeding for appealing qualities depleted genetic diversity, leaving weaknesses in individual dogs’ genetic maps.
For instance, the intense breeding required to produce the Dalmatian’s stunning spots also brought their genetic predisposition for ailments such as kidney stones and deafness. Along the same lines, poodles are well-loved around the world for their gorgeous, hypo-allergenic fur and intelligence. Unfortunately, rigorous breeding to satisfy demand for these popular pooches has also made poodles the breed most predisposed to disease: they have been linked to 145 genetically-influenced disorders.
Obesity is no exception. In many cases, the causes of obesity are self-evident: as in humans, when a dog eats too much, and exercises too little, he or she is likely to become overweight. Additionally, low-quality, low-protein dog foods may encourage overeating, as dogs need to eat more to feel satiated. The majority of canine obesity cases are rooted in these causes.
However, certain dog breeds are more likely to gain excessive weight, for the reasons listed below. If you’re feeling worried because your adorable puppy’s breed is listed, take heart: we’ve also listed techniques for preventing weight gain, or, if it’s too late for prevention, helping your dog shed those extra pounds.
Chow Hounds: Breeds Likely to Eat Quickly
A quick review of the history of the canine species explains why some dogs practically inhale their food. Many experts believe that dogs broke off into separate species 15,000 years ago, when certain wolves opted to step into a new human-created niche, living near the easy food supplies of waste dumps. In this circumstance, it made sense for dogs to eat quickly, so they could ingest as much food as possible before the appearance of rival dogs or predators.
Today, the original utility of rapid consumption has been replaced with the problems of obesity and dog bloat. Obesity results when owners often assume that their chow hound is still hungry, leading to over-feeding. Gastric tortion, or dog bloat, is a much more immediately severe disorder in which the dog sucks up air with their food, causing the stomach to twist in on itself, blocking exits, even as digestion continues to release more gas. The deep, narrow chests of breeds such as the Collies and the St. Bernard make them more likely to suffer dog bloat. Other fast eaters include large breeds such as Labrador retrievers, Basset Hounds, Rottweilers and any dog that had to worry about having its food taken away as a puppy. Keep in mind that any breed may eat too quickly; monitor your dog’s eating habits to determine if he or she is overeating food.
How to Slow your Chow Hound Down
? Set a consistent feeding schedule, and stick to it. Many vets suggest two daily feedings, in the morning and evening. Record how much you typically feed your dog each day, and check with your vet to see if this is an appropriate amount. Avoid giving your dog table scraps and other people treats.
Create an obstacle in your dog’s bowl. Some owners and vets recommend placing a tennis ball or large rock in your dog’s bowl to slow eating. Other, more aesthetically-pleasing solutions, like the DogPause Bowl, uses the same principal to simply but effectively slow down a dog’s eating pattern. These bowls have half-cup divisions in the bowl that create an obstacle for your puppy to work around in order to get to its meal.
Canine Energy: Breeds that Need Lots of Exercise
Some dogs were specifically bred for work. Shepherds were bred to run around all day herding sheep, for instance. It’s no surprise, then, that work 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 there and play. A half 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 puppy to see if his or her breed may require a little extra time running around to stay in shape.
~Ben Anton, 2008