Authors: Katy Evans and Vicki Adams.
This study, conducted by two epidemiologists at the Animal Health Trust, used data collected in the 2004 Kennel Club/BSAVA Scientific Committee Purebred Dog Health Survey. This surveyed 15,881 dogs from 165 KC-recognised breeds. The authors identified illness (morbidity) and death (mortality) in each breed due to bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome). The four breeds with the highest prevalence of developing bloat were the Grand Bleu de Gascogne, bloodhound, otterhound and Irish setter. However, it is disappointing to note that the British Association for German shepherd dogs refused to provide data.
There were dogs in different 65 breeds that died of bloat, and bloat was the cause of 2.5% of all deaths. From the available data the authors were able to calculate the relative risk of illness or death for each breed, adjusting the data in proportion to the number of dogs in each breed. All the breeds that appeared to be at increased risk were large or giant breeds except for the basset hound and chow chow. The highest risk of illness and death was in the Grand Bleu de Gascogne and bloodhound.
Breed Prevalence ratio*
Grand Bleu de Gascogne.. 31.1
Irish setter 12.6
*The higher the number the greater the risk of developing bloat, where 1 indicates no increased risk.
Because the number of bloat cases was numerically greater in setters (i.e., 49 bloats in Irish setters but only 3 in Grand Bleu de Gascogne), reflecting breed popularity, the results for the setter are more statistically valid, and regrettably the Irish setter is clearly at increased risk of developing bloat.
In conclusion, bloat is a serious, and often fatal condition in the breed, and the Breed Club Health Coordinators recommend all setter owners submit DNA samples to the Animal Health Trust in the hope of finding a genetic basis to this disease so that it can be eliminated through responsible breeding programmes.