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Annual Study Visits FAQS

What is the process for a dog’s annual study visit?

To fulfill the requirements for each year’s annual study visit, the owner must:

  • Log on to caninelifetimehealth.org and complete, save and lock the annual owner questionnaire. The questionnaire does not need to be completed in one sitting. Progress is saved automatically as an owner moves through the questionnaire. However, the questionnaire must be locked once complete for shipment of the veterinary sample kit to occur.
  • Once the questionnaire is completed, saved and locked, the veterinary sample kit will be mailed to the owner within 10 business days. If an owner has changed veterinarians, it is recommended the owner delivers the kit to the new veterinarian ahead of time so the veterinarian may become familiar with the kit contents and review study requirements.
  • Schedule an appointment with the veterinarian in accordance with the Annual Appointment Guidelines.
  • Return to caninelifetimehealth.org and log on to update the scheduled visit date on the dog’s record. After the annual visit, the study veterinarian is responsible for ensuring the annual veterinarian questionnaire is completed online. The dog’s Antech laboratory results also will be automatically uploaded 2-3 business days after the visit to the veterinarian’s study account.

For any questions regarding the annual study visit process, please contact the study customer service team at grdogs@caninelifetimehealth.org or 855.4GR.DOGS (855.447.3647).

How does the owner know when a dog’s annual study visit is due?

Each owner will receive an email reminder 30 days prior to the yearly due date for the study visit. We ask owners to schedule each year’s veterinary visit appointment ±30 days of the dog’s study anniversary date. If the owner questionnaire has not been completed, a second reminder will be sent 14 days before the due date. For any questions, please contact the study customer service team at grdogs@caninelifetimehealth.org or 855.4GR.DOGS (855.447.3647).

How much time will a study visit take?

The veterinary visit will take an estimated 30–60 minutes to complete the annual examination, review the medical history and perform the sample collection. After the visit, the completed veterinarian questionnaire can be entered online via the study website by the veterinarian or a member of the veterinary clinic staff.

When and where is the veterinary sample kit shipped?

The veterinary sample kit is shipped to the owner after the owner completes, saves and locks the online owner questionnaire. To allow adequate time for shipment, please allow at least 10 days between the date the owner questionnaire is completed and the date of the veterinary visit. If the owner is using a new veterinarian, we recommend the owner deliver the kit to the clinic a few days before the veterinary visit date so clinic staff can review contents and instructions.

What if an owner has not received a veterinary sample kit prior to the scheduled annual study visit?

The annual veterinary sample kits will not ship if the owner has not completed, saved and locked the owner questionnaire. Owners should first make sure that the questionnaire was filled out in full, saved and locked by logging on to caninelifetimehealth.org.  If the owner questionnaire is locked and a kit still has not arrived, please contact grdogs@caninelifetimehealth.org or 855.4GR.DOGS (855.447.3647) for assistance.

What if the veterinary sample kit is lost or it arrives damaged?

The dog’s annual study visit cannot be completed without the veterinary sample kit. Please call the study team at 855.4GR.DOGS (855.447.3647) to have a new kit shipped. The veterinary visit may have to be rescheduled to allow time for the replacement kit arrive.

What must an owner do before the veterinary appointment?

To help a dog’s veterinary visit run smoothly, we recommend the owner take the veterinary sample kit to the clinic a few days before the appointment date (especially if using a new study veterinarian).

The veterinary sample kit will be shipped to the owner after the owner questionnaire is completed, saved and locked. If the box has been significantly damaged in transit, please request a replacement kit by calling the study team at 855.4GR.DOGS (855.447.3647).

Please prevent access to all food at least 12 hours before the scheduled appointment. The dog may have access to water up until the time of the appointment. Also, avoid trimming the dog’s toenails for up to four weeks before the appointment.

On the day of the appointment, please gather the following:

  • A stool sample – Collect a fresh sample (less than 12 hours old) of the dog’s stool in a clean, zip-closure bag.
  • A urine sample – The veterinarian may ask the owner to collect the urine sample. If so, he or she may supply an appropriate urine collection container, along with instructions on how to collect the sample. Collect approximately 1–2 tablespoons of the dog’s urine. Alternatively, the veterinarian may opt to collect the sample during the appointment. If this is the case, the owner should try to keep the dog from urinating for a few hours before the appointment.
  • Hair clippings – Cut a lock of hair ≈1/4” in diameter (about the diameter of a wooden pencil) and a minimum of 2” long as close to the root as possible. This may be done by the owner or the veterinary clinic staff. The preferred collection site should be determined by the owner. 
  • Toenail clippings – Collect 5-10 toenail clippings. This may be done by the owner or the veterinary clinic staff.
  • The dog’s medical history – The owner should bring any health information about the dog, such as medical and vaccination records, current medications and any past medical conditions. If the owner knows of any medical conditions in the dog’s parents, please bring that information, too (baseline, Year 1 and Year 2 visits only).
  • Microchip/tattoo information – The microchip/tattoo information is verified during each annual study visit. The owner should bring the microchip information (manufacturer, etc.) to the appointment. The veterinarian will verify the information and ensure the chip is still functioning.
Why do participating veterinarians have to register for the Canine Lifetime Health Project?

A dog’s information for this study is provided online by the owner and the veterinarian. The veterinarian must maintain an account at caninelifetimehealth.org to access the reports and tools that he or she will need for the study. If the veterinarian is unable to meet this or other requirements, another veterinarian will need to be selected who can participate in the study.

What happens if a study dog is spayed or neutered after it was enrolled in the study?

A study dog may be spayed or neutered at any time during the study. The owner will report the change of sex status on the next annual owner questionnaire. The veterinarian will report the method and date of the change on the next annual veterinary questionnaire.

What if the owner doesn’t have the sire’s or dam’s medical histories available?

The sire and dam medical histories are not required. If available, however, this information may be added to the dog’s record each year. For first and second annual study visits, this information is added to the veterinarian’s questionnaire. From the third annual study visit forward, this information is added to the owner’s questionnaire.

Which laboratory tests are performed for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study and are the results provided?

Some of the samples the veterinarian collects (blood, urine and feces) will be shipped overnight to an Antech Diagnostics laboratory for:

  • blood chemistry analysis (SuperChem)
  • complete blood cell count (CBC)
  • urinalysis
  • fecal analysis (ova and parasite)
  • total thyroid test (T4)
  • heartworm antigen test

The test results are sent directly to the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study and then uploaded to the dog’s record under the veterinarian’s study account at caninelifetimehealth.org. These test results will provide valuable information about the dog’s health. The veterinarian will interpret these results and report them back to the owner. Additional samples of blood, urine, feces, hair and toenail clippings will be sent to a long-term storage facility to be preserved for future analysis. The dog’s Antech laboratory results also will be uploaded automatically to the veterinarian’s study account two to three business days after the visit.

Can additional laboratory testing be run on the samples collected during a study visit?

The primary focus of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is canine cancer.  While we are tracking the incidence of other diseases common in golden retrievers, it is beyond the scope of this study to fund additional testing for such diseases.  After reviewing a dog’s annual examination laboratory results, the veterinarian may recommend additional testing to explore abnormalities found on the blood chemistry, thyroid level, urinalysis, etc.  The decision to pursue such testing and any additional samples or fees required are the responsibility of the owner and should be discussed directly with the attending veterinarian.  If you have further questions, please contact the study team at 855-4GR-DOGS or grdogs@caninelifetimehealth.org.

How much blood volume is required for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study?

The veterinary team will collect approximately 56 mL of blood from a study dog each year. Although this amount of blood is more than a routine blood draw, it is less than 25 percent of the safe amount to draw from an average-sized golden retriever. This amount of blood is necessary for the laboratory tests and storage for future studies (e.g., to identify methods for early diagnosis of disease). The veterinary team may wish to shave a small area on the dog’s neck or leg for better visibility of the vein. It is recommended that this be discussed with the owner prior to shaving.

Is fasting bloodwork required?

Yes. The owners are given instructions to not feed their dog for 12 hours before their veterinary visit. If the dog has eaten within the previous four hours, the appointment should be rescheduled to avoid invalid samples because of postprandial lipemia (increased fat in the blood following a meal).

Is sedation/anesthesia permissible for the blood collection?

Yes, if needed. Sedation or anesthesia will not significantly affect the blood samples for the purposes of this study.

Are there any recommendations or resources that can help with a dog that is anxious during its study visit?

We are committed to making the study visit a positive experience for everyone involved.  To improve the experience for the owner, the veterinary team, and most importantly – the dog, we want to point out some available resources.  Books, videos, and online classes or consultations are available to help owners desensitize their dogs to sample collection procedures.  The goal is make it tolerable and even enjoyable. It is possible!

Please review the following resources and give it a try.  We appreciate any feedback on these offerings – let us know what works and what wasn’t so helpful.

  • Books and DVD’s on Low Stress Handling are available at http://drsophiayin.com/lowstress.
  • An online class for handling and restraint is available at http://www.thecognitivecanine.com/.
  • Consider anti-anxiety wraps such as the Thunder Shirt (thundershirt.com) or the Tellington Touch body wrap (http://ttouch.co.za/files/what/bodywraps.php).
  • Pheromone therapy with the Adaptil diffuser, collar, or spray (http://www.adaptil.com/us/) may help
  • Oral supplements such as Composure Chews or Rescue Remedy. (All available from your veterinarian, local pet boutique, or online.)

Please discuss these options with your veterinarian.  If you have any questions or concerns, never hesitate to contact the study team at 855-4GR-DOGS or grdogs@caninelifetimehealth.org.

Does the veterinarian have to submit the health examination reports online?

Yes. All examination findings must be reported online via the study website. The study website is not linked to any practice management software. The veterinarian can delegate this task to any member of the veterinary clinic staff. A hard copy of the annual veterinary questionnaire is provided in each study kit. If you have questions, please contact the study team at 855.4GR.DOGS (855.447.3647).

Why is there not a place to add more free-text on the owner and veterinarian questionnaires?

For a study of this kind, it’s important to have as much directly comparable data as possible. Free-text responses are limited because it is difficult for our researchers to evaluate this type of data. Free-text data collection requires coding and mapping to compare answers, which increases study costs. Therefore, only select and limited free-text responses are allowed.

The veterinary practice keeps paperless records. Can the practice obtain an electronic version of the completed online veterinary report forms?

Yes. The clinic can print forms from the veterinarian’s user account at caninelifetimehealth.org, scan each form, and attach the scanned file to the practice management system. A form also can be saved directly to Adobe PDF format, if the computer being used has that capability. If records cannot be located, please contact the study team for assistance at grdogs@caninelifetimehealth.org or 855.4GR.DOGS (855.447.3647).

Can the veterinary clinic print a copy of the patient’s completed veterinary report form?

Yes. Log on to the veterinarian’s user account at caninelifetimehealth.org to view and print patient records. If the records cannot be located, please contact the study team for assistance at grdogs@caninelifetimehealth.org or 855.4GR.DOGS (855.447.3647).

If a study dog’s regular veterinary visits are not at the same time of year as the annual study visits, can the study visits be moved to coincide with the regular visits?

Once a dog is in the study, the annual study visits should occur at approximately the same time each year. It is possible to request a change to the dog’s study visit annual target date by contacting the study team at 855.4GR.DOGS (855.447.3647) and requesting an, “anniversary date change.” It is recommended owners not change the dog’s anniversary date frequently and settle on a time of year that sets them up for success in completing the study visit requirement. We also ask that owners discuss any schedule changes with their veterinarians to determine the best scheduling option.

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