3,000 Goldens Enrolled in Lifetime Study

Morris Animal Foundation’s longitudinal health study is the first of its kind in the veterinary world.

A suburban Chicago golden retriever will go down in history for her role in a ground-breaking study.

Morris Animal Foundation announced today that young Chloe has enrolled as the 3,000th dog in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, a years-long research project that aims to better understand canine diseases.

The Denver-based foundation called the longitudinal study the first of its kind in the veterinary world.

“We are extraordinarily grateful not only to the thousands of owners who enrolled their dogs in this study but also to the many veterinarians who are on the front lines helping us gather data,” said David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., the president and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation.

“Of course, the real heroes are all the beautiful golden retrievers we will be following throughout their lives.”

Chloe’s owner, Meredith Walters of Riverside, Ill., didn’t hesitate to offer up her pup, especially since her golden retriever Amber died from cancer and Cushing’s disease at age 13.

“My hope is that this study will uncover data that will lead to information on why golden retrievers in particular are susceptible to cancer,” Walters said.

“I knew that by enrolling Chloe I could honor Amber’s memory in a tangible way—to help discover the potential causes behind the incredibly large number of golden retrievers diagnosed with cancer each year.”

A research team led by Colorado State University veterinarian and principal investigator Rod Page, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, hopes the findings will benefit all dog breeds. Factors such as the environment, nutrition, exercise, behavior and genetics as well as the 3,000 participants’ evolving health will be documented and examined.

Even though the study will run for years, data will trickle in over time.

“Some tests are run immediately and the results are returned to study veterinarians. Other samples are stored for future analysis,” Dr. Page said. “The questionnaire data actually is analyzed on a running basis every six months.

“Our goal is to share the findings as quickly as possible once we feel comfortable that the statistics support a solid trend,” he added. “We want to have positive impacts on animal health not only in the future but also for our patients today.”

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the largest of more than 2,300 studies that the nonprofit Morris Animal Foundation has funded since its founding in 1948.

“A study like this can only happen through the active participation of an extended community of dog owners, dogs, veterinarians and study sponsors,” Dr. Haworth said.

“The study will provide its own revelations about risk factors and disease correlations, and possible causations, as well as lead us to new areas of scientific inquiry both in veterinary and human medicine.”

The study’s progress may be followed at www.caninelifetimehealth.org.

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