DISEASE Related Death in Dogs
Hello Susan I have asked some of our scientific advisors who gave me the information your question.  Some are out of the office so I will send more when I get it but here is what Dr. Jamie Modiano, one of the top canine cancer researcher in the country had to say: We always qualify that cancer is the most common cause of DISEASE-RELATED death in dogs.The top killer (in the US) is euthanasia of “unwanted dogs” in shelters.A paper in Preventive Vet Medicine in 2003 quantified causes of death of dogs in Denmark showed cancer was second to “old age” as a reported cause of death (see abstract below if you want to get the paper). There are similar studies done in the US. I believe if you look at Larry Glickman’s Golden Health Survey from 2000, cancer is the most commonly reported cause of death in the breed for the time period he analyzed. Chand may have other statistics, and you can also check for links through Morris and CHF (?)A problem with “survey” studies is that the cause of death for things like “old age” is not always reliably reported, but nevertheless, I think there is consensus that among all diseases that dogs get these days, cancer is the one that results in the largest number of deaths.There are are reasonably good data from studies in military dog kennels (published in the JVIM in 2003, if memory serves) and the Purina longitudinal study (published in several pieces in various journals, but I think a lot of the data were in a JAVMA article about 2 years ago?) on the overall lifetime risk of cancer in these dog populations (about 1 in 2 to 1 in 3). I think it is fair to extrapolate from that to pet dogs, and Larry’s breed health surveys would generally support those numbers (with variations among breeds and cancer types). We can also do some crude extrapolation from the SEER databases in people, where it is quite clear that cancer is the leading cause of death for all age groups except the elderly (>85 years, where only heart disease kills more people) and the very young (cancer is second only to accidents). You can download the data on cancer statistics in humans updated every January from the American Cancer Society (except for 2006, when the data have been delayed for various reasons).Hope that helpsjaime1: Prev Vet Med. 2003 Apr 30;58(1-2):63-74.    Mortality of purebred and mixed-breed dogs in Denmark.Proschowsky HF, Rugbjerg H, Ersboll AK.Division of Animal Genetics, Department of Animal Science and Animal Health, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Gronnegardsvej 3, 1870 C, Frederiksberg, Denmark. hfp@kvl.dkCauses of death and age at death of 2928 dogs are reported from a questionnaire study among members of the Danish Kennel Club (DKC) in 1997. The dogs represented 20 breeds, 15 breed-groups and a group of mixed-breed dogs. The median age at death for all dogs in the study was 10.0 years. Mixed-breed dogs had a higher median age at death (11.0 years) than the entire population, but breeds like Shetland Sheepdog, Poodle and Dachshund exceeded this age (12 years). The Bernese Mountain dog, the group of Molossian types and the Sighthounds had the shortest life span with a median age at death of 7.0 years. Old age was the most frequent reported cause of death (20.8%) followed by cancer (14.5%), behavioural problems (6.4%) accidents (6.1%), hip dysplasia (4.6%), heart diseases (4.6%) and spinal diseases (3.9%). Breed-specific proportional mortalities with 95% confidence limits are given for the six most prevalent specific causes of death.