Monday, May 23, 2016

Why Labrador Retrievers Like to Eat

OK. We already knew this. Labrador Retrievers like to eat.  Your vet will tell you that when you're dog stops eating it's an indication of illness. EXCEPT in the case of Labs- they'll continue to eat until they take their last dying breath.
Science Daily
Now researchers have discovered why a large number of Labs are more interested in food than other breeds.

A study links a gene alteration specifically found in a significant numbers of Labs to greater food-motivated behavior.  This is the first finding that a gene is associated with canine obesity.

And to all my friends who use Labs as guide dogs, this gene variant occurs even more frequently in Labs chosen for guide work.  This may be one reason why the breed makes up more than 60% of the dogs that graduate from assistance dog programs - they'll do just about anything for a food reward.

Below is my favorite guide dog. Paige may be fashionably svelte but she definitely likes to eat, so it's a constant struggle to keep food out of her mouth. Once it's in, she is more than reticent to give it up.

To read a summary of this very interesting research go to Science Daily.
Read the journal article:  Raffen et al. A deletion in the canine POMC gene is associated with weight and appetite in obesity prone Labrador Retriever dogs. Cell Metabolism, 2016

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Cancer in North American Bred Golden Retrievers

By the time people and dogs pass 70 and 10 years of age, respectively, about 50% of us will have been diagnosed with some type of cancer.  The malady accounts for approximately 23 percent of all deaths in people.  In dogs, cancer mortality varies across breeds, from under 10 percent to higher than 60 percent.

(Read why small dogs have a lower cancer risk.)

Breeds with the highest risk include the Bernese Mountain Dog, Bouvier des Flandres, Boxer, Bullmastiff and Golden Retriever.

A health report published in 1999 by the Golden Retriever Club of America [GRCA] identified cancer as the cause of death in 61.4% of their dogs. (In comparison, the cancer rate in Goldens bred in Europe hovers around 35%.)
Five of these eight Golden Retriever puppies 
will likely die of cancer, some by the age of nine.

In 2012,   Morris Animal Foundation  (a nonprofit that invests in science to advance animal health worldwide) in partnership with GRCA enrolled 3000 dogs in age from six months to two years and launched the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.  Over the lives of the dogs, researchers hope to identify potentially modifiable risk factors that may account for the high incidence of cancer and other diseases in the breed, and eventually in all dogs.

Funded and managed by MAF, the study will investigate the effects of genetics, nutrition and exposure to environmental factors.

I wrote an article, "On the Trail of Canine Cancer: Large Scale Study of Golden Retrievers Holds Hope for all Dogs", published in the Winter 2015 edition of The Bark magazine.

Read the full article.

To find out more about the longitudinal study contact Morris Animal Foundation.