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January 13, 2021 – Lymphoma is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers of dogs and, for a long time, was treated as a single disease. That is until sophisticated diagnostic techniques revealed many different subtypes, each with its own unique features and treatment response.

T-zone lymphoma (TZL), comprising about 12% of all canine lymphoma cases, is one such recently identified subtype of lymphoma. It typically develops in older dogs and is slowly progressive. TZL is more prevalent in golden retrievers than other breeds, accounting for one-third of all dogs diagnosed with the disease.

In 2014, researchers at Colorado State University wanted to better understand TZL and came to Morris Animal Foundation with a request – could we help them find owners of older golden retrievers to participate in a TZL-focused research project?

The Foundation was in the midst of enrolling young dogs for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, and was able to reach out to the golden retriever community with the request, connecting researchers to owners with older dogs. The CSU team (including Dr. Julia Labadie, who recently joined the Foundation as Study epidemiologist) were amazed by the response.

“We had hundreds of owners contacting us within days, volunteering to participate,” said Dr. Labadie. “We were able to recruit 275 dogs, which allowed us to conduct in-depth analyses of risk factors for TZL.”

The team’s analysis showed that dogs with hypothyroidism were less likely to develop TZL and also discovered that dogs receiving omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to develop the disease.

Their findings have made a major contribution to our understanding of TZL but we’ve still got a lot to learn. As our Study cohort ages, they’ll provide even greater insights into this cancer affecting and shortening the lives of our older dogs.