Golden Retriever Lifetime Study


Catherine was a beautiful puppy and grew up to be a beautiful dog.

Whether human or animal it is one of the most dreaded diseases known.

Dr. Rodney Page hopes to put a dent in cancer, at least in dog cancer. He is the lead investigator at the prestigious Robert H. and Mary G. Flint Animal Cancer Center (FACC), Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS). Dr. Page is also a board-certified professor of veterinary oncology and the director of the FACC.

His current research project is massive in scope. The “Golden Retriever Lifetime Study” involves 3000 golden retrievers, all starting the study at or below age two. Each participant must have a pedigree searchable at least through three generations.

Golden retrievers live to be 10-14 years of age, on average. Cancer is a common cause of their death in middle-to-old age, taking over half of goldens. Cancer is the leading cause of death in the dog population overall after age two. This study will specifically study bone cancer, lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of blood vessels. This will be a history-making study. No canine study has ever been as long, or as large. Indeed, it is the biggest study in the history of veterinary medicine.

Who could resist?

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is actually a subcategory, the first study under the broader “Canine Lifetime Health Project.”

Dr. Page will be tracking multiple risk factors on the study participants: genetics, nutrition, environment, happiness and owners’ love. These last two parameters will be determined by questionnaires given to the goldens’ owners. Questions will include number of children in the family, other pets in the household, amount of time spent together and the dog’s sleeping location.

For most of us, that last item will have an easy and obvious answer: in our beds.

The study is being funded by Morris Animal Foundation, a charity established by Mark L. Morris, D.V.M., in 1948.  Dr. Morris’ first product, Prescription Diet k/d, for patients in renal failure, was canned by the Hill Packing Company. Later they became Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and disease treatment through nutrition was revolutionized.

Golden retriever owners are among the most loyal of pet owners.

Registration for the study is still open. Click here to participate. Dr. Richard Guy, study director, says participation is not something to be undertaken lightly. “This study requires a long-term commitment from dog owners and their veterinarians. We have the potential to learn valuable information that will not only improve canine health but will also significantly advance the entire field of veterinary medicine.”

Veterinarians may also enroll to participate. Click here to access the application form.

Donations may be made to the Morris Animal Foundation by clicking here.

See you next week, Dr. Randolph.

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