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Veterinary advances for dogs

Since 1950, Morris Animal Foundation has invested in more than 800 canine health studies for a total of $30 million. Here are some of the significant health advances that have occurred for dogs because of our funding.

Improved Cancer Treatments and Diagnostics:  As a leader in funding animal cancer studies, Morris Animal Foundation has supported nearly 200 canine cancer studies. These studies have led to more effective treatments for bone cancer, soft-tissue sarcomas and lymphoma; the development of an early diagnostic test for lymphoma; and the identification of genetic causes for lymphoma. Funding also helped establish two programs for training cancer scientists and a national tumor tissue bank, which helps canine cancer researchers study eight different canine cancers.

Genetic Tests to Identify Blindness Genes: Scientists identified the genes that are predictive to progressive retinal atrophy, a group of diseases that cause blindness in dogs, and developed breed-specific DNA tests to identify carriers of the gene. These tests are helping to prevent blindness in 47 breeds.

First Parvovirus Vaccine: Foundation funding supported the development of the first parvovirus vaccine, which has saved the lives of thousands of dogs.

Prevention and Treatment for Bladder Stones: Researchers used a laser lithotripsy technique to noninvasively remove bladder and urethral stones in dogs, allowing for rapid recovery. In another study, researchers determined genetic mutations that predispose Dalmatians, Bulldogs and Black Russian Terriers to bladder stones and developed a DNA-based test to identify high-risk dogs. Breeders can use this test to breed out the mutation.

Advanced Treatment of Heart Conditions: Multiple studies have improved treatments for canine heart conditions. Scientists successfully used radiofrequency catheter ablation to treat and permanently cure dogs with accessory pathways in the heart. Another study used a silicone cuff to treat portosystemic shunts, the second most common congenital cardiovascular abnormality in dogs.

Diets to manage kidney disease: Early Foundation-funded studies helped define the role of protein and phosphorus in the diets of dogs with kidney failure, helping veterinarians to manage the condition with nutrition interventions. A recent study determined that a daily low dose of calcitriol stabilizes kidney function and slows disease progression.