TAMPA - It's said that if a dog doesn't get hit by a car, it'll get hit by cancer. It's a heartbreakingly common diagnosis for dogs, but now a non profit foundation has embarked on what may be the largest study of canine cancer ever conducted.
Joe Cool is anything but cool. The warm and waggly eight year old Golden Retriever started limping recently, but owner, Debbie McGhehey chalked it up to roughhousing with her other Golden Retriever.
"I thought Joe had just hurt his foot" said McGhehey.
But it was more serious than that. A biopsy showed cancer- familiar bad news for McGhehey who lost two of her previous Golden Retrievers to cancer.
"When we found out for sure that this was cancer again, I couldn't believe it was happening a third time" said McGhehey.
The Bluepearl Veterinary Center in North Tampa sees so much canine cancer, they have their own oncology department complete with a linear particle accelerator to deliver radiation treatments to dogs and cats.
Dr. Jen Coyle believes there are more cancer diagnoses partly because better veterinary care has allowed dogs to get older to eventually get cancer. But the cause is still a mystery.
That's why $25 million dollars is being spent in a groundbreaking Canine Lifetime Health Project that will study 3,000 Golden Retrievers over their lifetimes to try and pinpoint risk factors for cancer and other ailments.
Goldens were chosen mostly because they're a popular and therefore common breed. But all dogs are susceptible to cancer.
The Morris Animal Foundation in Colorado is conducting the study. They are still accepting volunteers among both Golden Retriever owners and veterinarians. You can still join the study if your pure bred dog is under two years old.
Joe Cool needs more testing to see if the cancer on his foot has spread, but the prognosis is hopeful.
Details at caninelifetimehealth.Org
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