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Bloat Special Emphasis Research Initiative RFP

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), commonly known as bloat, is a rapidly progressing and devastating condition that can develop in multiple breeds of dogs. Bloat is of foremost concern to the AKC Canine Health Foundation and its donors, and as such will require a major research effort to identify the underlying mechanisms of this disease.  In response to donor concern, we are launching a Bloat Research Initiative to better define, and ultimately eradicate, bloat in dogs.

The exact cause of bloat is not understood, and to date only risk factors have been identified. It is clear that large-breed and/or deep chested dogs are at higher risk, and it is consensus opinion that these anatomical features may predispose certain breeds to disease. Beyond anatomical features, genetics, feeding practices, exercise, gut motility and stress have been proposed to be associated with development of bloat, but definitive studies are lacking. In order to move beyond these anecdotal and associative relationships we must better define the pathophysiology of disease.

The Bloat Research Initiative will support hypothesis-driven and discovery research; however, genomic studies in the absence of complementary proteomic, epigenomic, metabolomic, transcriptomic or pathophysiology studies will not be considered responsive to this RFP. Similarly, studies designed to enhance surgical technique must be paired with pathophysiology research in order to be considered responsive. Basic science applications should have a well-defined translational endpoint. Collaborative, multidisciplinary teams of researchers are strongly encouraged.

Topics of special interest include, but are not limited to:

  1. Integration of genomic with epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and other-omic methodologies to elucidate the effects of genetic risk variants on the pathophysiology of GDV for diagnostic and prognostic use in high-risk breeds.  
  2. Elucidation of the pathophysiological mechanisms of GDV that will permit the identification of new targets for preventive and therapeutic intervention and/or to inform breeding strategies to mitigate risk of disease.
  3. Characterization of pathways mediating gastrointestinal motility changes associated with GDV, including utilization of intraluminal sensors and non-invasive sensing technologies to monitor/measure motility in vivo.
  4. Elucidation of the neural pathology of GDV and improved understanding of how psychosocial stressors precipitate GDV.
  5. Elucidation of whether environmental factors anecdotally associated with bloat (ex: heat/humidity) are associated with aberrant physiological responses in high risk breeds. Experiments must be hypothesis driven but can take a systems biology approach.

Epidemiological studies are not considered responsive to this RFP.

Breeds at significant risk of developing bloat include Akita, Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Borzoi, Boxer, Bullmastiff, Chow Chow, Curly-Coated Retriever, Scottish Deerhound, German Longhaired Pointer, Grand Bleu de Gascogne, Great Dane, Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound, Mastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Newfoundland, Old English Sheepdog, Otterhound, Saint Bernard, Standard Poodle, Weimaraner, Bernese Mountain Dog, Collie, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd Dog, Gordon Setter, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Greyhound, and Rhodesian Ridgeback. Applicants are strongly advised to collaborate with breed clubs to identify relevant study participants and/or samples. For more information please contact Samantha Wright at

The AKC Canine Health Foundation is not currently accepting grant applications in this research program area.

Please read an open letter to applicants concerning changes to our grant process from previous cycles.

View recently funded research in the Bloat Initiative Research Program Area >>

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