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New Georgia study examines causes of death in dogs



Researchers , from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine studied dogs from 1984 to 2004 in an investigation into age-, size-, and breed-related causes of death(J Vet Intern Med 2011;25(2):187-198). It included 20 years of records from 27 veterinary schools’ and  teaching hospitals.  Author Dr. Kate E. Creevy, an assistant professor at Georgia’s veterinary college, looked at records of more than 74,556 dogs of 82 breeds.

Results indicated that young dogs (2 years or younger) died most commonly of trauma, congenital (inherited), and infectious diseases. Older dogs, died overwhelmingly of cancer and the frequency of cancer peaked in the group that included 10-year-old dogs and then declined with the oldest age group.

Focusing on conditions by weight, large breed dogs died more commonly of musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal causes, whereas small dogs died more commonly of endocrine causes. Cancer was a cause of death more frequently in large-breed dogs. Dogs of small breeds had an increased risk of death associated with metabolic diseases like diabetes and adrenal disorders.

In analyzing specific breeds, researchers found generally unsurprising results, such as Dachshunds having a high percentage of deaths attributable to neurologic disease and Golden Retrievers having the highest percentage of deaths from cancer. Respiratory disease was the most common cause of death in Bulldogs, and Chihuahuas and Maltese died largely of cardiovascular diseases.

In specific breeds, researchers found Dachshunds having a high percentage of deaths attributable to neurologic disease and Golden Retrievers having the highest percentage of deaths from cancer. Respiratory disease was the most common cause of death in Bulldogs, and Chihuahuas and Maltese died of cardiovascular diseases.

Golden Retrievers and Boxers died of cancer more commonly than any other disease and at rates higher than those of most other breeds and the Bouvier des Flandres was the breed with the second highest rate of cancer-related deaths, ranking ahead of the Boxer.

Finally, although cancer generally was the most common process resulting in death in the study there were a few breeds less likely to die of the disease, including several toy breeds—Chihuahua, Pekingese, Pomeranian, and Toy Poodle—and the Australian Heeler and the Treeing Walker Coonhound.

Summarized by Ned Caldwell from article by Malinda Larkin JAVMA News June 1, 2011

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