University of Georgia researchers, studying more than 75,000 dogs from 82 breeds, have found that the causes of canine deaths vary by breed as well as age (1). The study revealed that congenital diseases, trauma and infection are the most frequent causes of deaths in dogs under 2 years old and that cancer risk peaks at about age 10.
The researchers also determined that bigger dog breeds are more vulnerable to musculoskeletal disease, gastrointestinal disease, and cancer. Smaller breed dogs, on the other hand, are more at risk for endocrine and metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and Cushing's disease (1).
|Rosie, an 11-year old Bichone Frise with both diabetes and Cushing's disease. The photo on the left is before treatment, whereas the photo on the right is after successful treatment of the Cushing's disease and diabetes.|
It has long been recognized that there are patterns in the causes of death for our dogs. This study helps owners know what sort of problems to watch out for in their pets. It helps veterinarians focus on the most likely cause of a particular dog’s illness. And most importantly it guides us in identifying specific risks for individual patients and taking action to minimize these and prevent or delay illness and death.
1. Fleming JM, Creevy KE, Promislow DEL. Mortality in North American Dogs from 1984 to 2004: An Investigation into Age-, Size-, and Breed-Related Causes of Death. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 2011; 25: 187-198.