Unfortunately, not all owners are as lucky. Sadly, cancer will claim almost 50 percent of dogs over 10 years old, leaving their owners bewildered and unsure of what to do.
Of the almost 9,000 veterinary specialists, less than 200 specialize in veterinary oncology. In Boston, we are lucky to have veterinary oncologists at New England Veterinary Oncology Group, Angell Memorial Animal Hospital and Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. A new collaboration, however, may help provide some answers — and options.
The Morris Animal Foundation (MAF; www.morrisanimalfoundation.org) has launched the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study in an attempt to stop cancer in our pets with a goal to cure this deadly disease within the next 10 to 20 years. This study brings together research scientists, industry leaders and 3,000 dog-owning households throughout the nation in an effort to eradicate canine cancer.
Each golden retriever enrolled in the study will have all its physical exam results, medical history and lab work sent to the foundation on an annual basis throughout its lifetime by your veterinarian. If surgeries are performed, your veterinarian will enter all results and biopsies into a database. The study can accommodate 3,000 golden retrievers. A candidate for the study must be under the age of 2 and purebred to enroll. If you are willing to commit to annual exams and lab work for the lifetime of your dog, you can log on to the website www.morrisanimalfoundation.org to enroll your golden retriever in the study.
Another immediate priority of the foundation is collaborating with cancer specialists, ensuring that pet owners have access to treatment options and advice. The Morris Animal Foundation will contribute $500 to the medical care of any enrolled golden retriever if cancer does develop.
Already, multiple scientific endeavors are working toward a cure for dog cancer. A canine cancer tissue bank has been created due to a generous $1.1 million donation from Pfizer Animal Health. The Golden Retriever Foundation has promised $500,000 toward research for early detection. This will be money well spent since approximately 60 percent of golden retrievers die from cancer.