Advertisement

Causes of death or reasons for euthanasia in military working dogs: 927 cases (1993–1996)

George E. Moore DVM, MS, DACVPM, DACVIM1,2, Kay D. Burkman DVM, MPH, DACVPM3, Margaret N. Carter DVM, MS, DACVPM4, and Michael R. Peterson DVM, DrPH5
View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Service, 1219 Knight St, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas 78236.
  • | 2 Current address is the Department of Veterinary Science, Attn: MCCS-HV, Suite 266, 2250 Stanley Rd, Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-6145.
  • | 3 Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Service, 1219 Knight St, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas 78236.
  • | 4 Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, 14th St & Alaska Ave NW, Washington, DC 20306.
  • | 5 Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, 14th St & Alaska Ave NW, Washington, DC 20306.

Abstract

Objective—To determine causes of death or reasons for euthanasia in a population of military working dogs.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—927 military working dogs.

Procedure—Records of all military working dogs that died during the period from 1993 to 1996 were evaluated for cause of death or reason for euthanasia by review of necropsy and histopathology reports, death certificates, and daily clinical treatment sheets. A single primary cause of death or euthanasia was determined.

Results—Although sexually intact male dogs were more numerous in the study population, castrated male dogs typically lived longer than spayed females or sexually intact males. Leading causes of death or euthanasia (76.3% of all dogs) were appendicular degenerative joint disease, neoplasia, spinal cord disease, nonspecific geriatric decline, and gastric dilatation-volvulus. Compared with German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian Shepherd Dogs were at increased risk for death attributable to neoplasia, behavior, and respiratory tract disease. German Shepherd Dogs had nearly twice the risk for death associated with spinal cord diseases, compared with Belgian Shepherd Dogs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—For most military working dogs, death or euthanasia results from a few diseases commonly associated with advanced age. Some breed differences in risk for these diseases may exist, which clinicians should consider in the procurement and long-term management of these dogs. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:209–214)

Abstract

Objective—To determine causes of death or reasons for euthanasia in a population of military working dogs.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—927 military working dogs.

Procedure—Records of all military working dogs that died during the period from 1993 to 1996 were evaluated for cause of death or reason for euthanasia by review of necropsy and histopathology reports, death certificates, and daily clinical treatment sheets. A single primary cause of death or euthanasia was determined.

Results—Although sexually intact male dogs were more numerous in the study population, castrated male dogs typically lived longer than spayed females or sexually intact males. Leading causes of death or euthanasia (76.3% of all dogs) were appendicular degenerative joint disease, neoplasia, spinal cord disease, nonspecific geriatric decline, and gastric dilatation-volvulus. Compared with German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian Shepherd Dogs were at increased risk for death attributable to neoplasia, behavior, and respiratory tract disease. German Shepherd Dogs had nearly twice the risk for death associated with spinal cord diseases, compared with Belgian Shepherd Dogs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—For most military working dogs, death or euthanasia results from a few diseases commonly associated with advanced age. Some breed differences in risk for these diseases may exist, which clinicians should consider in the procurement and long-term management of these dogs. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:209–214)