Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Mutation causes Labradors to Eat More

Labrador Retrievers may have genes that make them eat more. In many cases, Labradors tend to be more food motivated than other dog breeds. As a result, using food to train Labradors produces highly successful results – many service or assistant dogs happen to be Labradors trained by food motivation. In addition, obesity tends to be common in Labradors. Now, scientists and veterinarians believe that there could be a mutation altering a Labrador’s cell metabolism. 

A gene alteration that is found only in Labs causes the breed to be highly motivated via food. Eleanor Raffan, a veterinary surgeon and geneticist studies obesity in dogs.  Raffan studied three genes believed to cause obesity. The first analysis identified a variation with a gene called POMC. In obese dogs, at the end of the POMC, a section was deleted. This deletion is believe to hinder the dog’s ability to produce the nucleotides Beta-MSH and Beta-Endorphin. Without these hormones, the dog is unable to tell itself that it is no longer hungry after a meal. In other words, the dog will always feel hungry. This is why many Labradors constantly beg for food. The mutation in POMC has also occurred in flat-coated retrievers.

Research needs to continue on Labradors and obesity. What people thought of a dog simply begging for food may have deeper meaning from a genetic viewpoint. If a mutation POMC is the only cause of obesity in dogs, perhaps, a solution could be to inject the dog with a hormone that has nucleotides Beta-MSH and Beta-Endorphin. In the end, what can be learned from obesity in dogs can be applied to humans.

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1 comment:

  1. My childhood friend had a yellow lab who just recently passed away at 14 years. Her dog had a massive bulge on the left side on her stomach/rib cage area. I always wondered what this bulge could be. I always wondered if it was cancerous, but when they had it checked out, they were informed that it was just a lup of fat cells or something of the sort that caused a bulge out of her side. Her dog did in fact respond well to treat and ate often just like the study suggest and Eleanor Raffan suggests. This article has helped put my own personal observations into perspective and helped me understand my questions and the answered I received. The dog ended up passing away due to old age and being obese.