As much as we may hope otherwise, humans do not enter this world on an equal footing. Even excluding complex socioeconomic issues, inequality lurks in our medical charts: Some of us are genetically predisposed to medical problems like heart disease and certain types of cancer. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that our genes even make some of us more likely to be obese*.
Genetic injustice does not stop with homo sapiens. Our canine companions may also be genetically destined for certain disorders due to breeding practices. For countless generations, dog enthusiasts created the various breeds by selecting and breeding only dogs that exhibited certain desired traits, such as certain coat colors and face shapes. This selective breeding for attractive qualities depleted genetic diversity, leaving weaknesses in the genetic maps of individual dogs.
For example, the intense breeding required to produce the Dalmatian’s impressive spots also brought about its genetic predisposition to ailments such as kidney stones and deafness. Similarly, poodles are highly regarded around the world for their beautiful hypoallergenic fur and their intelligence. Unfortunately, rigorous breeding to meet the demand for these popular dogs has also made poodles the most disease-prone breed: They’ve been linked to 145 genetically influenced disorders.
Obesity is no exception. In many cases, the causes of obesity are obvious: as in humans, when a dog eats too much and exercises too little, he is likely to be overweight. Additionally, low-quality, low-protein dog foods can encourage overeating, as dogs need to eat more to feel satisfied. Most cases of canine obesity have their origin in these causes.
However, certain breeds of dogs are more likely to gain excess weight, for reasons listed below. If you’re feeling worried that your adorable pup’s breed is on the list, take heart: we’ve also listed techniques to prevent weight gain or, if it’s too late for prevention, help your dog shed those extra pounds.
Chow Hounds: Breeds Likely to Eat Quickly
A quick look at the history of the canine species explains why some dogs practically inhale their food. Many experts believe that dogs split off into separate species 15,000 years ago, when certain wolves chose to enter a new human-created niche, living near easy-to-supply garbage dumps. In this circumstance, it made sense for the dogs to eat quickly, in order to ingest as much food as possible before the appearance of rival dogs or predators.
Today, the original utility of fast consumption has been superseded by the dog’s obesity and bloat problems. Obesity occurs when owners often assume their Chow Hound is still hungry, leading to overfeeding. Gastric torsion, or dog bloat, is a much more immediate serious disorder in which the dog draws in air with the food, causing the stomach to twist on itself, blocking the outlets, even as digestion continues to release more gas. The narrow, deep chests of breeds like Collies and Saint Bernards make them more prone to dog bloat. Other fast eaters include large breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Basset Hounds, Rottweilers, and any dog that had to worry about their food being taken away as a puppy. Keep in mind that any breed can eat too quickly; Monitor your dog’s eating habits to determine if he is overeating.
How to Slow Down Your Chow Hound
? Set a consistent feeding schedule and stick to it. Many vets suggest two daily feedings, morning and night. Record how much you usually 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 treats for other people.
Create an obstacle in your dog’s bowl. Some owners and veterinarians recommend placing a tennis ball or large rock in your dog’s bowl to slow down his eating. Other more aesthetically pleasing solutions, such as the DogPause Bowl, use the same principle 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 pup to work to get to their food.
Canine energy: breeds that need a lot of exercise
Some dogs were bred specifically for work. Shepherds were bred to run around all day herding sheep, for example. So it’s no surprise that working dogs like German Shepherds, Dobermans, Rottweilers and Beagles gain weight when they don’t get daily exercise.
How to get your four-legged friend back to a healthy weight:
Go out and play. Half an hour of exercise is a good idea for all dogs, regardless of their size. Your dog may need more; Some vets recommend that you walk your dog one block for every ten pounds of weight. Talk to your vet about the recommended amount of exercise for your pup to see if his breed may require a little more time running around to stay in shape.
~Ben Anton, 2008