Dogs Born In Summer Months Are More Vulnerable To Heart Problems, Study Reveals

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The canine companions that share our lives are exposed to the same environmental threats as we are, unveiled a new study published last week in the journal Scientific Reports. These factors have a large impact on their health and seem to be responsible for an increased risk of cardiovascular problems.

The research, led by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, uncovered that dogs born during the summertime are more prone to heart disease and artery problems, ScienceDaily reports.

According to the findings, puppies born in mid-summer run the highest risk of developing cardiovascular problems. Compared with mid-winter puppies born in January, dogs that are delivered in July have 74 percent more chances of getting a heart disease later in life.

The Most Affected Dog Breeds

The study looked at almost 130,000 dogs from more than 250 breeds, examining cardiovascular records provided by the Orthopaedic Foundation of Animals.

The results revealed that dogs have a general cardiovascular risk of between 0.3 and 2 percent depending on their breed, but that their likelihood of suffering from heart disease later in life climbs to staggering proportions if these puppies are born during the summer.

The records showed that hounds, collies, and sheepdogs generally have a 2 percent chance of getting heart disease regardless of the season in which they’re born, whereas the cardiovascular risk lowers to about half a percent for retrievers, pointers, bulldogs, dobermans, pugs, and chihuahuas, notes AsiaOne.

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Meanwhile, seasonal factors were found to heighten the risk of heart problems in three types of terriers, Norfolk, American Staffordshire, and Border. The same goes for Havanese Bichons, English toy spaniels, and two breeds of sheep herding dogs: Berger Picard and Bouvier des Flandres.

These breeds are not genetically predisposed to heart conditions, as is the case of Cavalier King Charles spaniels, but the study points that they’re the most at risk of winding up with cardiovascular problems in dogs born during summer.

The Connection With Air Pollution

The summer months are “a peak period for exposure to fine air particulates,” like the ones released in the air by factory pollution, states Penn University.

Exposure to these particles, that run rampant from June through August, has been shown to influence cardiac health in past studies, especially if the exposure to outdoor pollution occurs during pregnancy and at the time of birth.

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In fact, lead study author Mary Regina Boland conducted a similar research in 2017, which explored the connection between heart disease and birth season in people. That previous study, which examined the health records of 10.5 million people in the United States, South Korea, and Taiwan, unveiled that exposure to fine air particulates during the first three months in the womb increased the risk of atrial fibrillation by 9 percent.

“It’s important to study dogs because the canine heart is a remarkably similar model to the human cardiovascular system,” said Boland.

“Also, humans and dogs share their lives together and are exposed to similar environmental effects, so seeing this birth season-cardiovascular disease relationship in both species illuminates mechanisms behind this birth-season disease relationship,” she pointed out.