Research highlight

Biology: Birth season may affect cardiovascular disease risk in dogs

Scientific Reports

May 18, 2018

The month a dog is born could affect its risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Using cardiovascular data from 129,778 canines representing 253 distinct breeds, Mary Regina Boland and colleagues found that among breeds that were not genetically predisposed to cardiovascular disease, dogs born between June and August had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those born at other times of the year. Birth season did not appear to affect cardiovascular disease risk in dogs that were genetically predisposed to cardiovascular disease.

The authors suggest that because the relationship between birth season and cardiovascular disease is more pronounced in dogs that are not genetically predisposed, the effect could be due to environmental factors. One of these factors could be selective breeding, whereby dogs that are predisposed to cardiovascular disease are monitored more closely than dogs not predisposed to the condition. The authors also suggest that there may be a genetic element, which makes dogs that are not predisposed to cardiovascular disease more susceptible to adverse environmental effects depending on their birth season.

Dog’s hearts are known to be useful physiological models for the human heart as both species have similar cardiovascular systems and - because they cohabit - are exposed to similar environmental pressures. Therefore, the researchers suggest that these findings may be helpful in understanding the relationship between cardiovascular disease and birth season in humans.

doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-25199-w

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