It’s not greed…
Satiation is the word to describe that moment when you are no longer hungry after eating.
Many Labrador’s owners will attest their dog’s hoovering capacity. They’ll say things like ‘No matter what or how much food is on the menu, it’s like there’s no ‘off’ switch for the appetite’.
Enter the POMC gene, which although present in all dog breeds it is not being properly expressed in Labradors. POMC is pro-opiomelanocortin and a similar POMC gene mutation can also be attributed to obesity and obesity related diseases in humans. Currently the gene mutation in Labrador Retrievers is around ¼ of those dogs tested however it appeared in nearly 80% of Labrador service dogs. It is thought that dogs with a stronger motivation for food may be the reason they were ideal candidates for training.
The absence of satiety may contribute to weight difficulties or obesity and the science it still in progress. It’s not all bad news. OK we admit there’s not much of an ‘up’ side to this for the Labradors, but for us humans we can capture this drive to strengthen trained activities and reinforcement zones. A strong desire for food makes for strong motivation to complete a task for food reward whilst dog’s are first learning desired behaviours. Thankfully food rewards can quickly be phased out of training. Unfortunately being highly treat motivated can impact health in later life and obesity can affect a service dog’s ability to perform his or her work.
So whether your Lab is on a controlled diet or relishing large meals you might still expect to be getting those ‘I’m hungry’ eyes.’ If you suspect your dog may have POMC gene mutation a veterinarian can help you develop a nutrition and exercise plan customized to your dog.
Meanwhile, Bon Appetit.
Leah & Angela OMeara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)