Bloat is a serious problem among many canine breeds. Yet little is known about the causes of this deadly disease. While any larger dog can be affected, research is underway to help advance our understanding of the potential genetic factors that may predispose dogs to bloat.
A team headed by Dr. Michael Harkey of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center recently completed a study of great Danes, which showed that three of the dogs’ immune system genes are significantly associated with bloat. The researchers also showed that bacterial populations living in the intestinal tract (the gut microbiome) were altered in dogs with bloat.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) recently announced a new research grant to Dr. Harkey to study the genetics of bloat and its association with specific genes of the immune system and gut bacteria in German shepherds. “Our hope is to define genetic markers for identification of at-risk dogs of all breeds, and ultimately, to design appropriate probiotic or dietary therapies to prevent GDV,” says Dr. Harkey.