Posted by Josie
My human aunt Maya just got a Golden Retriever/Irish Setter mix dog named Teddy. At a year old, he is one big lump of fur! Her family had been looking for that type of dog in animal shelters and rescues all over the Midwest, and they finally found one in Wisconsin. (They’re very much advocates of adoption.) Since his arrival, the 85 pound canine has chewed multiple objects, but that doesn’t matter because Teddy is their pride and joy and exactly what her family was looking for. They do everything possible to keep Teddy healthy, including making him bland ground beef for every meal because he has a sensitive stomach. One thing my aunt Maya is concerned about is Teddy’s disposition to get cancer. Scientific research isn’t making her feel better either.
I was surprised to learn 60 percent of Goldens will succumb to cancer. That’s a disturbing trend for one of America’s favorite dog breeds. The Morris Animal Foundation, which has invested more than a hundred million dollars towards thousands of studies involving animal health, has been conducting major research on the topic. The foundation recently reached out to me to see if I could help spread the word about their second annual National Dog Day campaign. Given that it’s about dogs, I said of course! The campaign, which culminates on August 26, which is National Dog Day, will raise funds for the foundation’s groundbreaking Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, a $32 million study designed to identify correlations to cancer in dogs. The study began in 2010 and is a 14 year scientific adventure. With the help of 3,000 purebred Goldens, their owners, and their veterinarians, the study will gather information and physical samples throughout the dogs’ lives, to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases.
Did you know each year, more than six million dogs are diagnosed with cancer and the disease is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of two? While cancer treatment has advanced in the last three decades, the disease still takes the lives of too many dogs too early, and veterinarians and dog owners are often faced with difficult choices. The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study will help advance canine cancer research, as well as research into other diseases. The study is the most extensive dog health investigation of its kind ever undertaken in veterinary medicine in the United States.
Research has also shown male Goldens have a slightly higher cancer risk than females… 66 to 57 percent. The two most common types of cancer in this breed are hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the blood vessel walls) and lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes).
Others have pointed out Goldens having a higher rate of cancer didn’t start until the 1990’s. When researchers compared the DNA of American Goldens against European-bred ones. They found European dogs developed cancer at a much lower rate (under 40 percent). Their genes are significantly different, which suggests the risk of cancer in American Goldens is the result of a fairly recent gene mutation.
The folks at the foundation believe this study will benefit not only Goldens, but other breeds as well. To fund the study, the organization is dependent on donations and they are asking dog owners to help fund this groundbreaking multi million dollar study, which perhaps could extend the lives of millions of pups in the United States.
My aunt Maya says she will be paying attention to the medical discoveries in this study. She hopes that because Teddy is not a purebred Golden, that means he doesn’t have any cancerous genes. Only time will tell, but in the meantime she’s going to ensure her big fluffy dog is healthy and happy. It’s all about looking at life pawsitively and that’s Whisker Fabulous!