It's no secret that dogs often become beloved family members, but cancer claims many each year. Now, a new study is getting started to learn more about the leading cause of death in older dogs.
"Once they get older, they don't die of heart disease or things like that," explained Dr. Andrew Jackson, with Bluepearl. "A lot of them get cancer."
The dogs inside Pampered Pooch Playground in St. Louis Park clearly get a little babying at the bark park.
"Most of the dogs that come to our daycare -- the dogs are the babies," explained Keith Miller.
Miller's baby, Roxy, is a Bernese mountain dog, a breed he says is commonly diagnosed with cancer.
"We're freaks when it comes to finding bumps on our dogs. When we find 'em, we instantly call a vet, get an appointment and get 'em tested," Miller explained.
The Morris Animal Foundation's Canine Lifetime Health Project aims to rid Miller and other owners of that panic by spending up to 14 years learning how to prevent cancer and other diseases in dogs.
The study will be the longest and largest dog study ever conducted, and will focus on three cancers that can be fatal. Even though the study will only follow the lives of 3,000 purebred golden retrievers, the results are expected to benefit all breeds.
"It's a breed that we see a lot of cancer in, that I do a lot of surgery for," Jackson said.
The groundbreaking research could eventually help humans too, proving once more that man's best friend can offer a lot more than companionship.