Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Golden Retriever Lifetime Study

Frank and Poppy

As a lover of yellow dogs I have always know that golden retrievers were prone to developing cancer, but I was absolutely blown away to learn that more than half of all golden retrievers will die of cancer.  This nasty disease doesn’t just limit itself to sweet, fluffy goldens; cancer is the leading cause of death in all dogs over the age of two. 

I have been on both sides of the table when it comes to discussing cancer in a pet.  My beloved dog Westin who was a golden mix, died at the age of thirteen after battling three different types of cancer.  Unfortunately I routinely have to break the news to a pet owner that their dog or cat has cancer.  Each and every time is heartbreaking for the owner and for me it brings the memory of losing Westin right up to the surface.


The Morris Animal Foundation is bringing us hope in the fight against cancer.  They have launched the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, a groundbreaking effort to better understand the cause of cancer in dogs.  Set to span 10-14 years, they plan to enroll up to 3,000 golden retrievers and follow them throughout their life.  Researchers will look at genetics, lifestyle, nutrition and environment for a possible link to understand what is causing cancer in these dogs.  The information collected will hopefully allow us to prevent disease and develop more effective cancer treatments for all dogs. 

The truly amazing thing is what we learn from this study could also help us better understand cancer in people.  Companion animals are an excellent source for learning more about cancer in people.  They are exposed to many of the same environmental risks as we are and since cancer in pets occurs in years as opposed to decades with people we can gain information much more quickly.  By studying the behavior of cancer in dogs and their response to treatment we learn valuable information about cancer in people.  This information is not obtained through animal testing as these studies are done in animals that have naturally occurring cancers. 

If you have a golden retriever between 6 and 24 months old and are interested in participating please visit www.caninelifetimehealth.org for more information.  Friendship Hospital for Animals will be working with the study to help get dogs signed up to join the fight against this heartbreaking disease.  I can't wait to get started!

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