Obesity in Dogs: Exercise and the Obesity Genes

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We have been writing a lot about nutrigenomics, which is the study of how food can influence the gene expressions of a body. A related field is called epigenetics, which is similar, but more broadly studies the impact of exogenous factors, like lifestyle and environment, on gene expression.   While researching foods impact on the body’s obesity genes, I stumbled upon a fascinating study that linked exercise to obesity gene expression in humans.


Exercise Can Turn Off Fat Genes

In a study published in August 2010, and with a human sample of over 20,000 people, researchers found that living a physically active lifestyle is associated with a 40% reduction in the genetic predisposition to common obesity. Said differently, the research debunks the notion that people who are genetically predisposed to being fat are destined to become fat.

Nothing like a game of FETCH as part of your daily exercise!

Nothing like a game of FETCH as part of your daily exercise!

The study leads to some other eye opening conclusions. According to the paper’s editor (bold and italics are mine for emphasis):

“The findings of this study suggest that, while the whole population benefits from increased physical activity levels, individuals who are genetically predisposed to obesity would benefit more than genetically protected individuals. Furthermore, these findings challenge the deterministic view of the genetic predisposition to obesity that is often held by the public, as they show that even the most genetically predisposed individuals will benefit from adopting a healthy lifestyle.


Pretty powerful stuff to say the least.


Exercise and Appropriate Diet is the Key to a Lean and Healthy Dog (and Human)

In our articles on the nutrigenomic effect of food on obesity genes, we have reported on studies that show that the food we serve our dogs can impact the dog’s obesity gene expression based on specific ingredients and the food’s carbohydrate content.

Jack loves to play TAG too.

Jack loves to play TAG too.

Now we have evidence that activity can also impact obesity genes in people and I would expect that this holds true for dogs as well. Just think about this for a minute. We don’t need to go the pharmacy for Slentrol or other pharmaceutical solutions if our pet is overweight. We don’t need to rush to buy a diet food (which are often actually high in carbohydrates and fillers). And we don’t have to accept that our pet will be overweight.


All that we have to do is to commit to regular exercise and mindful food decisions for our dogs. By doing so, not only will our pets trim down, but their obesity genes, which lurk in their bodies just waiting to pounce when we over-feed, mis-feed, or fail to exercise our dogs, will also ‘calm down’ and not be able to wreck so much havoc on the dog’s internal weight management systems. The end result is a natural way to prevent or cure obesity and general weight problems for our pets.


Sound simple?  Good!  Get off your butt and workout with your mutt!

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  1. I’ve been reading a lot about epigenetics, and this is a cool finding. According to the papers I’ve been reading, the changes to gene expression due to lifestyle (like exercise) in one person can be passed down to future generations.

    Anyway, this is a super cool study. I come from a family predisposed to be heavy. But, mostly via exercise, my tendency has slowly become that I get too thin if I’m not careful (my tendency was the opposite when I was a kid). My brother has also become a super committed exerciser, and he’s the same as me – too thin is his tendency. But all our close relatives are obese. I guess you just explained it.

    The big question in my mind after reading about epigenetics is whether the “tendency not to become obese” can be inherited by the generations after my brother and me. A very cool thought.

    It also says that looking at the body composition of the parents of a puppy will tell you a lot about how easily the puppy will stay at a good weight over its lifetime.
    KB recently posted…Shyla’s Two SidesMy Profile

  2. Hi Y’all!

    We dogs are saddled with a tough job. Many of us have humans with desk jobs. We’ve established that using our brains tire us out. It works the same for our humans. Our job is to get these humans movin’ and keep them movin’. Not always easy!

    Y’all come on by,Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Fit FunMy Profile

  3. And humans don’t need to run to the doctor for diet pills and surgery if they would just change their diet and exercise. It is all pretty simple but humans these days want a quick fix with no effort for everything.
    Emma recently posted…The Complexity Of Container SearchesMy Profile

  4. I had over weight dogs all my life growing up so when I finally got my 2 smooths I vowed to keep them fit and trim with the right type of diet and exercise. This was a great post! Have a great Friday!!
    Rebecca recently posted…FitDog Friday: Winter Storm WorkoutsMy Profile

  5. Eat less and move more. And for me stop giving the dogs a treat every time they come in from going potty. Bad habit to start.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Snow And Bumpers = Fun~FitDog FridayMy Profile

  6. What great information! As someone who has battled with weight issues my whole life, it took a long time to bang into my head that getting out there and moving and eating a healthy diet would keep my weight in check and help me feel better. It is great watching Dory realizing the same thing!
    Dory’s Backyard recently posted…Fun Fit Friday!My Profile

  7. I’m my mommas gym, without me she would live on the sofa :o)…hmmmm… think she should give me the membership fee of a gym every month…. :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog CAST AWAYMy Profile

  8. It’s definitely interesting, I wonder how many obese people would agree with this?

    We checked in at the vet today and Sampson is holding steady with his weight. This is good news for us, since we’ve been trying to find the balance of food and exercise to help him maintain it.
    Jodi recently posted…Follow-UP Friday – February 20, 2015My Profile

  9. Bentley is loving his walks more since he has lost weight. He asks to go each day. We are very proud of his progress.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Dinos and Dog Dental HealthMy Profile

  10. Excellent article on the importance of staying fit & healthy ~ what better way to accomplish this than with man’s best friend?!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…How important is playtime for dogs?My Profile

  11. Cool stuff! A healthy lifestyle makes you FEEL so much better too! Happy weekend!
    Diane recently posted…It’s National Love Your Pet DayMy Profile

  12. I love to exercise, that’s why we adopted Dante! We wanted a pup who could keep up! When I don’t exercise I don’t feel as good. 🙂
    DZ Dogs recently posted…Lookout Point ReservoirMy Profile

  13. Mr. N just got “shaved down” so he has barely any fluff and you can totally see his waist. It’s normally hiding under a cloud of hair. I’m waiting for people to tell me to feed my dog more.

  14. Good information.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Spring TrainingMy Profile

  15. I give lots of raw carrots and beans. Kilo loves them. Wondering why not a baby carrot? Are they not as good for you? X Susie

  16. Interesting post. I’d love to research this more. I know many pugs seem to get chubby, especially fawn ones. Certain black ones may be a little leaner and more “busy” it appears. Kilo was very slim when we got him – they had him on a very good diet. He has put on a little because of his behaviour modification and training program and my weakness, but is still in very good shape. He does so much running around, tricks and agility, which I don’t see many or any other pugs doing so I’m sure it really helps burn all the calories.

  17. I think it makes perfect sense for humans and dogs. We can’t control what’s in our genes, but we can live in ways to overcome it. My mother died young (65) of a heart attack, so I know there’s a good chance heart disease is in my genes. But my mother didn’t exercise, and she smoked and drank heavily. I’ve always felt I could be far healthier just by taking care of myself. As long as I’m doing that, I feel like I can overcome what’s in my genes. It certainly does stand to reason that it works the same for our dogs. Besides, there’s never really a good reason not to exercise as long as you can, right?
    Jan K recently posted…Black & White Sunday – Ready to RaceMy Profile

  18. This is a very interesting article, it clearly points out that just because one has got the obesity gene, it does not mean that they should throw in the towel when exercising. Being a dog owner will definitely require you to work out more, it is good for your pet and for you as well.

  19. Being responsible for Harley’s health and well being has taught me to take better care of myself. I’ve learned through him – consistency with diet and exercise makes a lasting difference. I’m loving this new outlook of life – both his and mine!

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