Researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) have published a 20-year retrospective study of canine mortality. The study appears in the March/April 2011 edition of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
Study data was compiled from the Veterinary Medical Database (VMDB) and included records for approximately 75,000 canine deaths from 1984 to 2004.
The study breaks down certain causes of death according to age, breed and size of the animal, and there were some surprises. For example, the Bouvier des Flandres, a rare breed, dies more often from cancer than the Boxer. The high rate of cancer in more common breeds like the Boxer and Golden Retriever is well-known.
According to study co-author Dr. Kate Creevy, assistant professor at UGA's College of Veterinary Medicine:
"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," Creevy says. "But if you analyze records that have been compiled over 20 years, you can detect patterns that you wouldn't notice otherwise."
The study also revealed that:
- Large breed dogs die most often from gastrointestinal or musculoskeletal diseases, or cancer
- Smaller dogs are most often victims of metabolic diseases
- Gastrointestinal or infectious diseases most often claim the lives of younger dogs
- Older dogs most frequently die from neurologic and neoplastic disorders