Chloe doesn’t realize it, but she is a very unique Golden Retriever. In fact, she is the 3,000th dog to be enrolled in the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. That’s quite an achievement!
Morris Animal Foundation is a nonprofit organization that invests in science to boost animal health on a global level. This landmark study of Golden Retrievers helps scientists better understand the role that the environment, exercise, nutrition, genetics, behavior, and other factors play in the development of canine disease, particularly cancer.
Although longitudinal studies are quite common in human health research, studies like this one have never been done before in veterinary medicine. Throughout the study, researchers collect biological samples and record lifestyle details from the different subjects.
Long-term studies like this one can help reveal health issues that evolve over many years. One of the biggest benefits to long-term studies is that they allow scientists to begin to unravel the cause of certain diseases and give them clues on how to prevent the development of such illnesses.
Dr. David Haworth, DVM, PhD, and President and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation, has acknowledged that this study would not be possible without the help and active participation of the extended community of dog owners that they have had the pleasure of working with. They also work with a large community of veterinary specialists and sponsors who fund the project.
He also says that although the study is centered on the Golden Retriever, other dog breeds, and possibly even other species, will still benefit from the information that is gained. The study will provide information about the disease correlations and risk factors associated with the diseases. This information will be able to be used though all of canine medicine, and possibly in human medicine as well.
Although the study will continue for many years, experts in the canine community will not have to wait that long for the results. Data is constantly streaming in, and once it is validated it will be published.
Tests are being run continuously, and the results are returned to the study veterinarians as soon as they are completed. Some samples are analyzed immediately while others are stored for future use.
Likewise, every member of the study must complete questionnaires from time to time and these are also analyzed on a running basis. The goal of the study is not just to help patients in the future, but also to help current patients that are waiting for new information to be discovered now.