Now, a group of researchers has reviewed more than 74,000 cases of canine death recorded from 1984 to 2004 in the Veterinary Medicine Database, a registry established by the National Cancer Institute that receives reports from 27 veterinary teaching hospitals in North America.
The analysis, published in the March/April issue of The Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, found that the most common cause of death varies considerably from breed to breed and by age.
Golden retrievers and boxers had the highest rates of cancer, the leading cause of canine death over all. In several toy breeds — Chihuahua, Pekingese, Pomeranians and toy poodles — cancer was much less common. For them, the leading cause of death was trauma.
Diseases of the nervous system were the most common cause of death in older dogs, while gastrointestinal disease affected dogs of all ages equally. Death from diseases of the musculoskeletal system was common in larger breeds, but the big dogs suffered less from neurological and endocrine ailments.
The authors acknowledge that the study is retrospective and subject to errors of classification of breed and disease. Still, a co-author, Kate E. Creevy, an assistant professor of veterinary internal medicine at the University of Georgia, said that knowing what kinds of diseases a breed is prone to is helpful. “We can use that information to avoid disease rather than treat it.”
The New York Times By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Published: April 22, 2011