Researchers teaming up to find genetic causes of bloat

Armed with a $250,000 grant from the AKC Canine Health Foundation, researchers from Tufts University are teaming up with scientists from MIT, the Broad Institute of Harvard, and Nestlé Purina PetCare to discover the genetic triggers that cause some dogs to get bloat.

Although researchers have been able to identify certain breeds that seem to be more susceptible to bloat than others, they have not yet found a single gene that causes the disease, Tufts reported in its magazine for the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. The Tufts scientists are hoping to find that gene with this new study, where they will work with researchers from the other institutions to study canine blood samples and abdominal tissue from purebred dogs with and without bloat, the school reported.

According to the university, the researchers will be looking to learn whether certain types or amounts of proteins, hormones, and other molecules in blood and tissues can help to predict which dogs will get bloat.

Claire Sharp, DVM, MS, DACVECC, emergency and critical care veterinarian at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals, said the study could lead to the first test for bloat because she and her fellow researchers are "confident that a significant amount of risk for bloat will be explained purely by genetics."

Sharp explained that developing a test for the disease would help the breeding community to produce litters that are less likely to get bloat.

People with dogs that have had bloat can aid researchers by sending in DNA samples, the school said. Contact Claire Sharp at [email protected] for more information.

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