Advancing Animal Health One Drop at a Time
Many participants in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, from owners to veterinary technicians, ask: “Why do you need to take such a large blood sample for this study? How much blood can you safely take from a golden retriever?”
The study requires an annual blood draw of 55 milliliters (ml) of blood, which is equivalent to 2 fluid ounces, or about 11 teaspoons. That doesn’t sound like quite as much in teaspoons.
A healthy 60-pound dog can donate nearly 200 ml of blood before we get concerned about removing too much. So even for our younger participants, the amount of blood required for the study is safe.
The blood sample is divided into several different blood tubes, each submitted for a different type of testing. Some blood is sent to the laboratory for routine blood work such as red and white blood cell counts, blood chemistries that provide information about liver and kidney function, measurement of electrolytes including sodium and potassium concentrations, and hormone tests such as thyroid levels. A test is also run for heartworm antigen. These tests are run immediately and reported back to the enrolled dog’s veterinarian within about four business days.
Additional samples are frozen for long-term storage and future testing. Blood from one sample tube, for example, is stored for future DNA analysis. Although many of us recognize (from TV shows such as CSI) that DNA can be analyzed from different types of samples (hair and nails are commonly used in forensics), blood still remains one of the best sources of DNA. This sample is stored at an especially low temperature to keep the DNA from degrading for years to come.
All of the blood samples collected for the study will provide invaluable information about the health and genetics of our enrolled dogs for not only current studies, but also for future research. So, the next time your golden retriever hero is required to give a sample for this important study, remember that with each collection, our understanding of animal health is being advanced a little further.
To learn more about Morris Animal Foundation and our other programs please visit morrisanimalfoundation.org.