Dog with fat rolls

Dog with fat rolls

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Dog with fat rolls, the better to play with my fingers. Or that's how it seemed when I first came across the picture of a giant golden retriever with the caption "This dog is obese. But, of course, he's just a normal Golden Retriever". I laughed and then quickly scrolled down to the comment section and read how a veterinarian named Dr. Robert Lutes was trying to change the way Americans view their dogs.

"It's a matter of simple mathematics," Lutes said in a recent interview. "It's very simple. We know that a fat dog is a healthy dog. It doesn't mean he's a healthy dog when he's obese, but what we do know is he's less likely to suffer from a whole range of diseases, and he's less likely to die sooner than a thin dog."

Lutes is not exaggerating. According to a new study published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, overweight dogs live longer. It's not surprising that the researchers found no significant difference between the two groups (thin dogs live longer than fat dogs), but what was surprising was that every category of obesity tested was associated with a longer lifespan. These results were very similar to the findings of the same study in humans. (Read my blog post about the difference between dogs and humans).

The researchers also found no relationship between obesity and the number of joint problems a dog experienced, which was a bit of a surprise. In humans, the only association was with rheumatoid arthritis. As in humans, however, being overweight didn't protect dogs from cancer. The researchers did note that the dogs who survived were on average older. It may not be worth mentioning that the most obese dogs were significantly older than the dogs who were not obese, but it is interesting to note that they did not find a correlation between longevity and aging.

So why would overweight dogs live longer? The researchers, working with Dr. Brian Polden at the University of Wisconsin, believe there are two possibilities. One is that obesity may help protect dogs from diseases that are usually connected with aging, such as cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. For example, studies have shown that being obese reduces your risk of heart disease, which is common in older people. Similarly, an older dog is more likely to develop osteoarthritis.

The second reason why overweight dogs live longer is due to the fact that overweight dogs have a longer life expectancy. Because they have an average life expectancy, they live longer on average. This does not suggest that overweight dogs are healthy — they are more likely to develop problems, such as joint pain, which affects their quality of life, but the fact that they live longer allows them to reach an older age.

What's surprising is that the most obese dogs lived the longest, but the study was unable to show that this was due to the fact that they lived into older age. What the scientists discovered was that the more fat a dog had, the more likely he or she was to be born into a family with fewer pets. This seems to indicate that obesity has a genetic factor. That is, the dogs with the highest body mass index scores were more likely to have been sired by parents that had sired dogs that were obese as well. These dogs were also less likely to be adopted into the shelter. That's not to say the dogs were not also adopted from the shelter — it just means that overweight dogs are more likely to be rescued from the streets and not necessarily from dog shelters.

As such, if we were to extrapolate what the findings suggest, the researchers are proposing that obesity is passed on genetically from parent to child. There are many reasons why this could happen, such as the genetic makeup of a parent may influence the behavior of their offspring. For example, a parent who has eating disorders and/or is obese may pass on those genes to his or her children, who may then become overweight or obese as well.

The study is a reminder to all pet parents that it's important to exercise caution when it comes to your dog's weight, and to pay extra attention to your furry family member's physical well-being. You don't want to subject yourself and your dog to life-threatening conditions due to your unwillingness to be more vigilant about your pet's weight.

Source: J.H.H.M. Looft et al. Obesity in dogs predicts familial predisposition to inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and emotional dysregulation, which may predict longevity. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Published online Oct. 15, 2016. doi: 10.2460/javma.2016.134301.

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