Region makes a difference in golden retriever health concerns
When Brian Olsen was growing up, dogs were a big, big part of his family life. At one point, his family had 18 dogs of all shapes and sizes. Golden retrievers eventually found their way into Brian’s heart, including Belle, study participant #2510.
Brian, who lives in Minnesota, first heard about the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study from his family veterinarian, and he saw a way to help not only golden retrievers, but all the dogs he loves. One important aspect of the study that will help all dogs is understanding how geography may affect a dog’s health in the short- and long-term.
Belle and Brian’s Minnesota home is part of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study’s Midwest region. The importance of getting a good nationwide distribution of study participants was recognized when the study was designed. Using the United States census as a rough guide, the lower 48 states were divided into five regions: Northeast, South, Midwest, Mountain and Pacific.
These regions were determined not only by geography but also by expected infectious disease and environmental toxin exposures. For example, we know fungal diseases are more common in the South and the Midwest; certain disease-carrying ticks only are present in the Northeast; and there are higher exposures to agricultural by-products in the Midwest. By dividing the country into regions, we have larger numbers of dogs to compare, which makes any statistical differences more powerful.
Better understanding risks by region also will give veterinarians helpful tools when planning for preventive care for their patients, as well as revealing regional risk factors that currently may be unknown or underestimated.
The work of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, including greater understanding of regional risks, is made possible by our study participants, their veterinarians, tireless volunteers and study supporters. As we celebrate through this holiday season, Morris Animal Foundation thanks everyone involved with this historic scientific inquiry. Without the help of our tremendous community, the study never would have become a reality.