A study recently released by the University of Georgia provides a comprehensive look at the causes of death in more than 80 dog breeds, which can be used as a basis for creating breed-specific petfood diets to manage health.
The study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, examined data from the Veterinary Medical Database to determine the cause of death for nearly 75,000 dogs from 82 breeds over a 20-year period, from 1984 through 2004. The deaths were classified by organ system and disease process, then data was further analyzed by breed, age and average body mass.
The study found that toy breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Maltese, which are known to have high rates of cardiovascular disease, had 19% and 21% of deaths within the breeds, respectively. Researchers found that Fox Terriers also have high rates of cardiovascular disease, with 16% of deaths. Two dog breeds that are known for high rates of death from cancer are Golden Retrievers, found to have a 50% death rate, and Boxers, found to have a 44% death rate. However, researchers found that the Bouvier des Flandres actually had a higher death rate from cancer (47%) than the Boxer. One of the study's co-authors, Dr. Kate Creevy, noted that the previously unknown high risk of cancer in the Bouvier, a relatively rare breed, highlights the power of the study's comprehensive approach.
The researchers found that larger breeds are more likely to die of musculoskeletal disease, gastrointestinal disease and, most notably, cancer. Smaller breeds had higher death rates from metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease. The findings may be useful in determining breed-specific diets that could reduce the dog's risk of developing disease or certain problems to which the breed is prone.
“If we can anticipate better how things can go wrong for dogs, we can manage their wellness to keep them as healthy as possible,” said Dr. Creevy.