Investigation of Sudden Death in young Labrador Retrievers

Recently two young working dogs have died suddenly with no prior clinical signs. Retrospectively, other sudden deaths, under similar circumstances, have been identified within the colony over the last 10 years. Due to the nature of the deaths, lack of prior clinical signs and no cause of sudden death identified on post mortem, it is hypothesized that these deaths are caused by a fatal arrhythmia. It is also hypothesised that this is a heritable condition due to the small gene pool of this colony.

Siblings of the affected dogs have had a 24 hour ambulatory ECG attached and analysed. Abnormalities associated with sudden death in other breeds have been identified in two of the siblings and other abnormalities of unknown significance have also been identified.

The aim of this study is to investigate the cause of the sudden deaths, to compare the ECGs from related dogs to both, unrelated dogs of the same breed and to a different breed to determine the significance of the abnormalities. The affected dogs will be followed to investigate the natural course of the abnormalities to assess for improvement, deterioration and the need for treatment. Follow up will include ambulatory and non-ambulatory ECGs. The dog’s pedigree will be mapped to investigate heritability.

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