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What can cohort studies in the dog tell us?

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    Rights statement: © 2014 Pugh et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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http://www.cgejournal.org/content/1/1/5
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5
JournalCanine Genetics and Epidemiology
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2014

Abstract

This paper addresses the use of cohort studies in canine medicine to date and highlights the benefits of wider use of such studies in the future. Uniquely amongst observational studies, cohort studies offer the investigator an opportunity to assess the temporal relationship between hypothesised risk factors and diseases. In human medicine cohort studies were initially used to investigate specific exposures but there has been a movement in recent years to more broadly assess the impact of complex lifestyles on morbidity and mortality. Such studies do not focus on narrow prior hypotheses but rather generate new theories about the impact of environmental and genetic risk factors on disease. Unfortunately cohort studies are expensive both in terms of initial investment and on-going costs. There is inevitably a delay between set up and the reporting of meaningful results. Expense and time constraints are likely why this study design has been used sparingly in the field of canine health studies. Despite their rather limited numbers, canine cohort studies have made a valuable contribution to the understanding of dog health, in areas such as the dynamics of infectious disease. Individual exposures such as neutering and dietary restriction have also been directly investigated. More recently, following the trend in human health, large cohort studies have been set up to assess the wider impact of dog lifestyle on their health. Such studies have the potential to develop and test hypotheses and stimulate new theories regarding the maintenance of life-long health in canine populations.

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