Nobody likes to think about the death of a pet. But if we understand what diseases are most likely to affect them, we can tailor their veterinary care to give them the best chance at a long and healthy life.
That’s the thinking behind a landmark study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine that looks at the causes of death by breed among nearly 75,000 dogs over a 20-year period.
The authors classified the deaths by organ system (for example, cardiovascular or gastrointestinal) and ailment type (e.g. infectious disease, trauma) for 82 breeds.
Here are the most common causes of death for some popular breeds, with organ system listed first, followed by type of ailment:
- Bulldogs: respiratory; neoplastic (tumors, cancer or other abnormal proliferations of cells)
- Chihuahuas: cardiovascular; trauma
- Golden Retrievers: hematopoietic (diseases of the blood); neoplastic
- Great Danes: gastrointestinal; neoplastic
- Huskies: gastrointestinal; neoplastic
- Maltese: cardiovascular; congenital
- Pomeranians: gastrointestinal; trauma
- Rottweilers: musculoskeletal; neoplastic
- Shih Tzus: urogenital; neoplastic
Larger breeds, they found, are more likely to die as a result of cancer, gastrointestinal disease and musculoskeletal disease (disease of the muscle or bone), while smaller breeds are more likely to die from Cushing’s disease, diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
The study confirmed some conventional wisdom and offered up some surprises — find out what after the jump.
It’s commonly known that toy breeds such as Chihuahuas and Maltese tend to suffer from cardiovascular disease and Golden Retrievers and Boxers have high cancer rates, but the survey also revealed that Fox Terriers are prone to cardiovascular disease and Bouvier des Flandres have higher rates of cancer than Boxers.
The results are particularly helpful in shedding light on rare
breeds like the Bouvier. “With rare breeds, an individual veterinarian
may not see enough cases to be able to develop the opinion on whether
the breed has a high incidence of conditions such as cancer,” coauthor Dr. Kate Creevy
“But if you analyze records that have been compiled over 20 years, you
can detect patterns that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.”
The authors write that their survey should be just the beginning of a
broader understanding of the genetic basis of disease — and that they
hope it will also help pet parents and veterinarians develop pet-care
and disease-screening practices tailored to the individual pet.
You might also like:
Site section: Pet Health
Site section: Dog Breed Directory
Library articles: Popular Dog Breeds
More on this subject:
Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine: Mortality in North American Dogs from 1984 to 2004: An Investigation into Age-, Size-, and Breed-Related Causes of Death
ScienceDaily.com: Breed-Specific Causes of Death in Dogs Revealed in Landmark Study