Golden Retriever Lifetime Study on pace with enrollment goal, still needs help from veterinarians

Enrollment for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is at almost 900 dogs and growing steadily, but researchers still need more help from the veterinary community to reach the goal of enrolling 3,000 golden retrievers within three years, said Allen Byrne, senior specialist, scientific communications and veterinary outreach, Morris Animal Foundation.

"We are on pace to meet our enrollment goal but we need the help of the veterinary community to reach our goal of 3,000 dogs in two years," Byrne said. "We are increasing our outreach to the veterinary community through multiple channels including online advertising, website study badges, speaking at veterinary conferences, and selected print advertising."

Boosting enrollment numbers with support from the veterinary community

For the study, researchers divided the contiguous United States into five regions, with the intent of having the 3,000 dogs evenly distributed across all regions. While some areas have quickly filled their enrollment objectives, there are some areas that still need more participation than others, Byrne said.

"Right now the South is leading with 26 percent of the dogs, whereas the Northeast and Pacific regions are lagging with 16 percent and 17 percent, respectively," Byrne said.

Many veterinarians have been extremely proactive in encouraging participation in the study from their clients, Byrne said, which has kept enrollment on a steady pace. Some veterinarians have recruited as many as six or seven clients to enroll their dogs, and some veterinarians have even enrolled their own golden retrievers in the study.

The veterinarians' enthusiasm for the study has stemmed from different motivations. Some have watched their own golden retrievers succumb to cancer at relatively young ages, and some practitioners appreciate the chance to contribute to veterinary research - something they don't normally get to do.

But regardless of their motivations, all veterinarians who participate in the study will gain valuable benefits and experiences, he said.

"The project offers the veterinary community a great way to develop a lasting relationship with dedicated clients," Byrne said. "Joining clients to participate in the study makes veterinarians a part of the biggest research initiative ever undertaken in veterinary medicine. Participation will help the advancement of veterinary medical knowledge and improve the health of all dogs."

Building pet owner enthusiasm for the study

According to Byrne, pet owners have also shown excitement for the opportunity to help researchers learn more about improving dogs' health and prolonging their lives. 

"The owners in the study are very enthusiastic about participation and most we've talked to have shared stories about losing one or more goldens to cancer," Byrne said. "Because of the losses they've experienced, they are highly motivated to help us learn more about canine cancer and making a contribution to finding preventions and cures."

The study has even yielded some interesting information about the owners who are participating, according to Byrne.

"Our owners are very interested in maintaining the health of their dogs, and in some ways are similar to the public and differ in some ways," Byrne said. "For example, 75 percent of our study dogs sleep somewhere in their owner's bedroom versus 45 percent in the public. Our owners are more likely to give vitamins and joint supplements, and also are more likely to have pet insurance."

Enrollment information for veterinarians and clients

Veterinarians or pet owners who are interested in enrolling in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study or learning more about the project can visit the Morris Animal Foundation website

Also, view a PSA video about the study that you can share on your website and social media pages.

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