Dogs

Photo: Dog

Below, please find links to all of the clinical trials currently accepting canine patients. The studies are organized by discipline and include a multitude of information, including (but not limited to) the study’s purpose, benefits for participating, and financial incentive information.

If you have any questions, please contact the individual outlined at the end of each trial summary.

Brain & Nervous System (Neurology & Neurosurgery)
NEW! Brain Tumors: Assessing a New Drug Delivery System

Title: Nanoporphyrin theranostics for canine primary brain tumors: Phase I/II clinical trial

Purpose: This clinical trial is being done to investigate whether small particles called nanoporhphyrins can be used to better visualize tumors during surgery and potentially to see if they will be a useful method to deliver drugs into brain tumors for treatment.

Contact: Contact Lisa Winn (Neurology Scheduling Coordinator) at llwinn@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393 and follow the prompts for Neurology/Neurosurgery

Participation Requirements: Dogs provisionally diagnosed with a brain tumor

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • Infusion of the nanoporphyrin particles prior to surgery
  • Collection of blood prior to and after infusion and surgery
  • Brain surgery to remove the tumor resected (standard therapy for brain tumors), during which:
    • A special light source will be used to 1) determine if the fluorescent particles are present in the tumor, and 2) potentially help to better define the tumor edges for safe surgical resection
    • Samples of the removed tumor will be sent to the laboratory for evaluation.
    • Following removal of the tumor, the tumor cavity will be illuminated by the light source to help identify any remaining tumor and to potentially help to kill any remaining cells.

Benefits: We hope that this technique will help us better visualize the tumor, allowing for a more complete removal of the tumor, and killing of residual tumor cells following surgical removal. Information obtained from your dog's treatment may help to further develop this type of treatment for both dogs and humans and could improve the treatment in both species in the future.

Additionally, the trial will provide up to $5,000 credit toward your dog’s treatment.

Owner Responsibilities: We expect that participation in this clinical trial will last for about standard 5-7 days for any dog getting brain surgery at the VMTH plus 1 additional day prior to surgery to administer the drug. You will be financially responsible for the cost of your dog’s standard treatment during the clinical trial and any complications arising from that treatment or from the experimental clinical trial procedures. The clinical trial will provide up to $5,000 financial support towards these costs. You will be provided with an estimate of the costs that are likely to be incurred during the treatment of your dog. If there are any significant changes to this estimate that arise during treatment, these will be discussed with you prior to proceeding with medical care of your dog.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Myasthenia Gravis: Understanding the Genetics

Title: MHC Haplotyping of dogs with Acquired Myasthenia Gravis

Purpose of Study: Acquired myasthenia gravis is an immune mediated disease. In people, there is an association between genes (HLA DR3) and the myasthenia gravis. If the same is true in dogs, it may allow us to identify dogs at risk before the development of disease, and it may allow us to develop new treatments. The purpose of this study is to determine if dogs with acquired myasthenia gravis have a similar genes (MHC haplotype). We will use DNA collected from blood cells to do the genetic analysis. The genetic analysis will be done in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Contact: Contact Dr. Vernau at (530) 752-1393, (530) 304-9450, or kmvernau@ucdavis.edu

Participation Requirements: Dogs with a confirmed diagnosis of acquired Myasthenia Gravis.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure involved a DNA analysis of a blood sample submitted by the owner (at least 5 mls) in 1-2 EDTA tubes.

Benefits: There is no direct benefit of this study for you or your dog; however, the information may allow us to identify dogs that are at risk and develop new treatments.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner only needs to send in a blood sample that has been collected in 1-2 tubes of EDTA by over-night FedEx, Monday to Thursday.

ON HOLD! Spinal Cord Injuries: Finding a Treatment

Title: Transplantation and Tracking of Autologous Epidermal Neural Crest Stem Cells into the Spinal Cord of Dogs with Acute Severe Spinal Cord Injury

Purpose of Study: Dogs that have suffered spinal cord trauma due to a disc herniation are typically treated with decompressive surgery and medication of various kinds. Most dogs do very well with this treatment. However, dogs that have suffered an injury severe enough to cause complete paralysis and loss of feeling to the hind legs often do not recover with conventional treatment. In these dogs, stem cell therapy may improve the ability of the dog to use his/her hind legs and/or to have control of his/her bladder. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the efficacy of stem cell therapy as a potential treatment for acute severe spinal cord injuries in dogs.

Cancer (Oncology)
NEW! Irregular Heartbeat (Ventricular Arrhythmias): Reducing the Risk during Chemotherapy

Title: Use of diphenhydramine to reduced fewer infusion-related ventricular arrhythmias in dogs treated with doxorubicin

Purpose: The current recommendation for canine lymphoma treatment includes the use of a chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin. Although effective, one of the reported side effects of doxorubicin is the liberation of a molecule called histamine, which can cause ventricular arrhythmias (an irregular rhythm). The concurrent use of anti-histamine agents like diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl) with doxorubicin therapy could possibly reduce these abnormal beats. Therefore, the aim of this study is to see if use of diphenhydramine can reduce the risk of arrhythmias sometimes associated with the administration of chemotherapy.

Contact:

  • Dr. Joshua A. Stern, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Cardiology) at 530-752-4892 or jstern@ucdavis.edu
  • Dr. Jenna H Burton. DVM, MS, DACVIM (Oncology) at 530-752-0629 or jhburton@ucdavis.edu

Participation Requirements: Dogs that have been diagnosed with lymphoma

Initial Evaluation for Participation:  Should you decide to enroll your dog in the clinical trial, your pet would receive a free Echocardiogram screening before receiving Doxorubicin. This would occur at one of the chemotherapy visits prior to the first Doxorubicin treatment.

Procedures: 

  • As part of this study, your animal will receive the same diagnostic tests and care that any other dog presented to the Oncology Service would receive. If your dog participated, an anti-histamine drug (diphenhydramine) will be given at only one out of the two study visits.
  • If your dog participated, an anti-histamine drug (diphenhydramine) will be given at only one out of the two study visits.
  • To evaluate the efficacy of diphenhydramine, your dog will wear a portable and battery-operated device that measures heart's activity (Holter monitor) for 3 hours after the infusion of chemotherapy while your dog is still at the VMTH.

Benefits: If you agree to have your dog participate in this study, the screening echocardiogram and your dog’s Holter monitor will be analyzed by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist and will be free of charge. Adverse events are not expected from the use of diphenhydramine; the study will cover up to $3,000 of your dog’s care if any adverse events occur that are attributable to the investigational portion of the study (use of diphenhydramine or not as a pre-medication for doxorubicin) and your dog requires further care (e.g., hospitalization).

Results from this trial may help us to better guide medical care for your dog and future dogs affected with the same disease. The understanding of your dog’s electrocardiogram may guide medical decisions.

Owner Responsibilities: We expect that participation in this clinical trial will last for two visits of the traditional CHOP chemotherapy protocol.

Costs associated with the recommended chemotherapy protocol and patient care will be your responsibility as they are not a part of this study. Additionally, costs associated with side effects that are attributable to doxorubicin administration (decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and/or low white blood cells counts) will not be covered by the study.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

NEW! Brain Tumors: Assessing a New Drug Delivery System

Title: Nanoporphyrin theranostics for canine primary brain tumors: Phase I/II clinical trial

Purpose: This clinical trial is being done to investigate whether small particles called nanoporhphyrins can be used to better visualize tumors during surgery and potentially to see if they will be a useful method to deliver drugs into brain tumors for treatment.

ContactContact Lisa Winn (Neurology Scheduling Coordinator) at llwinn@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393 and follow the prompts for Neurology/Neurosurgery

Participation Requirements: Dogs provisionally diagnosed with a brain tumor

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • Infusion of the nanoporphyrin particles prior to surgery
  • Collection of blood prior to and after infusion and surgery
  • Brain surgery to remove the tumor resected (standard therapy for brain tumors), during which:
    • A special light source will be used to 1) determine if the fluorescent particles are present in the tumor, and 2) potentially help to better define the tumor edges for safe surgical resection
    • Samples of the removed tumor will be sent to the laboratory for evaluation.
    • Following removal of the tumor, the tumor cavity will be illuminated by the light source to help identify any remaining tumor and to potentially help to kill any remaining cells.

Benefits: We hope that this technique will help us better visualize the tumor, allowing for a more complete removal of the tumor, and killing of residual tumor cells following surgical removal. Information obtained from your dog's treatment may help to further develop this type of treatment for both dogs and humans and could improve the treatment in both species in the future.

Additionally, the trial will provide up to $5,000 credit toward your dog’s treatment.

Owner Responsibilities: We expect that participation in this clinical trial will last for about standard 5-7 days for any dog getting brain surgery at the VMTH plus 1 additional day prior to surgery to administer the drug. You will be financially responsible for the cost of your dog’s standard treatment during the clinical trial and any complications arising from that treatment or from the experimental clinical trial procedures. The clinical trial will provide up to $5,000 financial support towards these costs. You will be provided with an estimate of the costs that are likely to be incurred during the treatment of your dog. If there are any significant changes to this estimate that arise during treatment, these will be discussed with you prior to proceeding with medical care of your dog.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Mast Cell Tumors: Assessing Lymph Node Mapping

Title: Sentinel lymph node mapping in dogs with mast cell tumors

Purpose of Study: Mast cell tumors are a very common skin tumor in dogs, and a common mechanism of spread in the body (metastasis) is to nearby lymph nodes. If tumor spread to lymph nodes is identified (as part of staging), this is important information that often influences treatment recommendations. Currently, standard protocols for looking for metastasis in lymph nodes most commonly include aspiration cytology. Aspiration cytology is minimally invasive, but may miss a diagnosis of lymph node metastasis in a concerning number of patients – early literature suggests metastatic disease may be missed by lymph node aspiration in up to 40% of patients! The concern is that not only does aspiration cytology only sample a very small amount of a given lymph node, but that it is difficult to ensure that we have correctly predicted the optimal lymph node to sample for any given mast cell tumor. Lymph node mapping, a technique to visualize the lymphatic drainage of tumors by which tumor cells might spread, is increasingly used to improve cancer staging and treatment protocols in the treatment of cancer in humans. Efforts are made to identify the “sentinel lymph node,” or primary lymph node that is most likely to demonstrate evidence of metastatic disease if it is present. This lymph node can then be surgically removed with the primary tumor, in order to be evaluated microscopically for spread of cancer. However the common method of sentinel lymph node mapping performed in people is not widely available to veterinarians. This trial is being performed to hopefully identify an alternative method of sentinel lymph node mapping that can be more widely accessible to a greater number of veterinary practitioners. By doing so, we hope that this will improve the accuracy of cancer diagnoses and treatment recommendations we make for dogs with mast cell tumors and other cancers, improving their quality of life and lifespan.

Contact:

Participation Requirements: Dogs must have been diagnosed with a peripheral mast cell tumor, have been evaluated by or received a consult from a clinician the Soft Tissue Surgery service to determine if LN mapping is viable for your individual dog, and you have elected surgical excision of this tumor both for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the U.C. Davis V.M.T.H. Oncology or Soft Tissue Surgery services. Specific preoperative diagnostic tests to ensure that your pet is safe for surgical removal of the mast cell tumor will be recommended by the clinician that you consult with on these services.

Procedures: If you choose to enroll your dog, lymph node mapping procedures will be performed the day before and the day of surgery. These will be discussed in more detail at the time of your appointment.

Benefits: The study will cover costs associated with the sentinel lymph node mapping imaging. There is no charge to you for these procedures.

Possible benefits of participating in this study for your dog include more sensitive identification of metastasis (spread of cancer) if it is present. If early metastasis is more sensitively identified, we can then make more accurate treatment recommendations for your pet. It is our hope that in addition to benefiting your dog, we will benefit future patients by advancing the standard of care offered when treating this type of cancer, improving care provided to larger numbers of veterinary cancer patients.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for bringing your dog to the U.C. Davis V.M.T.H. for 1) preoperative evaluation of and 2) surgical removal of the mast cell tumor, and covering the standard costs associated with medical workup for and surgical removal of the mast cell tumor.

If you are calling to schedule an appointment and already know that you are interested in having your dog participate in this study, please inform the coordinators so that they can make sure to schedule appropriately for the mapping procedures.

Lymphoma: Assessing Ventricular Arrhythmias during Treatment

Title: Use of Diphenhydramine to Reduce Infusion-Related Ventricular Arrhythmias in Dogs Treated with Doxorubicin

Purpose of Study: The aim of this study is to see if administration of diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl) prior to treatment with doxorubicin chemotherapy reduces the risk of arrhythmias (irregular rhythm) sometimes associated with the administration of this chemotherapy drug.

Contact: The Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Dogs diagnosed with lymphoma and undergoing treatment with the CHOP protocol at the UC Davis VMTH are eligible to participate in this study. 

Procedures: As part of this study your animal will receive the same diagnostic tests and care that any other dog presented to the Oncology Service would receive. The only difference for study participants is that your dog may or may not receive an anti-histamine drug (diphenhydramine aka Benadryl) at the time of its 1st and 2nd doxorubicin treatments. Diphenhydramine can also be useful to reduce the liberation of histamine molecules that can cause arrhythmias. To evaluate the effects of diphenhydramine in this regard, a portable and battery-operated device that measures the heart's activity (Holter monitor) will be used. Dogs will wear the device for approximately 1 hour before and 3 hours after the infusion of chemotherapy, which may require that your dog stay in the hospital for a longer period of time than a traditional visit.

Benefits: We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include allowing us to better guide medical care for your dog and future dogs affected with the same disease. The understanding of your dog’s electrocardiogram may guide medical decisions and this technology (Holter monitoring) is free of charge for study participants.

Owner Responsibilities: Once enrolled in the clinical trial, you are responsible for scheduling and keeping all appointments needed for study participation and reporting any side effects of the treatment to your doctor in a timely manner. If you agree to have your dog participate in this study, a screening echocardiogram and your dog’s Holter monitor, analyzed by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist, will be performed at no charge to you. All other costs associated with the recommended chemotherapy protocol and patient care will be your responsibility as they are not a part of this study.

Osteosarcoma: Assessing a New Addition to Treatment

Title: Evaluation of Oral Rapamycin for Treatment of Dogs with Osteosarcoma

Purpose of Study: Standard therapy for dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma has long been amputation of the affected limb followed by chemotherapy to prevent the spread of cancer. With this form of treatment, survival times of dogs diagnosed with osteosarcoma is on average about 10 to 12 months with little improvement in survival occurring over the past two decades. Rapamycin is a drug that potentially can inhibit an important pathway in cancer progression known as mTOR. The purpose of this study is to determine if adding the oral drug Rapamycin into the treatment protocol for dogs with osteosarcoma will be safe and improve efficacy of current standard therapies for osteosarcoma in dogs. There will be about 160 dogs taking part in this study that is enrolling dogs nationwide.

Contact: The Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for the cost of the initial examination with the UC Davis Oncology Service as well as the cost of the screening diagnostic tests, which include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, urinalysis, chest x-rays and abdominal ultrasound. These tests must be performed at UC Davis.

Participation Requirements: Most of the exams, tests, and procedures you will have are part of the usual approach for your dog’s treatment for osteosarcoma including amputation of the affected limb and carboplatin chemotherapy given once every three weeks for 4 doses followed by monitoring of chest x-rays once every two months.

  • Week 1 evaluation - amputation
  • Weeks 3, 6, 9 and 12 evaluation – blood work and carboplatin treatment (and chest x-rays at week 9)
  • Week 15 evaluation – chest x-rays
  • Every 8 weeks – recheck chest x-rays

Some extra sample (tumor and blood) collections for dogs enrolled in both study groups will need to be taken if you take part in this study. Additionally, dogs enrolled in the Rapamycin Group will have extra visits required of them during the 4 months that they are receiving oral rapamycin and owners are expected to administer the oral rapamycin once daily Monday through Thursday.

Benefits: Benefits of standard therapy include removal of the painful cancerous tumor in your dog’s bone and delay of spread of cancer by providing chemotherapy with carboplatin. Once enrolled, the study will provide a $1000 hospital credit toward the cost of your dog’s amputation and will provide the total cost of carboplatin chemotherapy and follow-up examination and diagnostics. For dogs enrolled in the Rapamycin Group, we cannot promise any benefits to your pet or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial.

Owner Responsibilities: Once enrolled in the clinical trial, you are responsible for scheduling and keeping all appointments needed for study participation and reporting any side effects of the treatment to your doctor in a timely manner.  You will be responsible for the cost of amputation above and beyond the $1000 hospital credit provided by the study. You will also be responsible for any costs associated with management of side effects from the standard therapy portion of this study (amputation and carboplatin chemotherapy). All other study costs associated with study participation will be covered by the study.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Osteosarcoma: Assessing an Immunotherapy

Title: Radiation and Autologous Natural Killer Immunotherapy in Canine Osteosarcoma

Purpose of Study: Even when we can get local control of osteosarcoma, most dogs will die of their disease within a year even if they have amputation and chemotherapy. The goal is to see if we can slow or stop the formation of lung metastasis (spread of tumor to your dog’s lungs which occurs in over 90% of cases).

Contact: The Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Participation Requirements: Dogs diagnosed with or strongly suspected of having osteosarcoma in the pelvis or one of the legs based on x-rays and staging tests to ensure his/her general health and to evaluate how advanced the disease is prior to treatment.

Initial Evaluation for Participation:  You are responsible for covering initial office visit, chest films, blood work (CBC/Biochemistry Panel), urinalysis, and diagnosis confirming Osteosarcoma.

Procedures: 

  • After enrollment, we will do a CT scan of the tumor and lungs, take a biopsy, collect blood (to grow your dogs natural killer cells), and complete a standard dose of palliative (pain reducing) radiation consisting of four once weekly doses.
  • One week after finishing radiotherapy, we will give the first of two injections into your dog’s tumor with your dog’s NK cells that we have grown, and take a biopsy.
  • One week later, we will need you to come back for the second injection of NK cells.
  • Three and six months later, we will then need you to come back for a CT of the lungs and a biopsy.

Benefits: While palliative radiation is known to be beneficial in decreasing pain in the majority of dogs with osteosarcoma, we do not know if there will be a direct therapeutic benefit to your dog or other dogs by your enrolling your dog to take part in this trial but we hope to help come up with a new treatment for this disease.

Owner Responsibilities: Once enrolled in the clinical trial, you are responsible for scheduling and keeping all appointments needed for study participation and reporting any side effects of the treatment to your doctor in a timely manner.

You are responsible for covering costs associated with the initial diagnosis and palliative radiotherapy. After determining if your dog is eligible and you agree to participate, the study will cover the cost of biopsies, CT scans, anesthesia for the injection of the activated immune cells as well as the cost for us to grow these cells. You will also receive a credit of $1,500 towards the cost of palliative radiation to be applied to your bill at the VMTH at the day of second injection of the NK cells. In the event any complications arise during the study period that are related to biopsy or intratumoral injections but not your dog’s tumor, their management will be covered by study funds up to $1000/per dog to be used at the UC Davis VMTH.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Large Bowel Disease: Evaluating New Diagnostic Tool

Title: Evaluation of CT pneumocolonography as a diagnostic tool for large bowel disease in dogs

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of imaging findings on surgical decision-making in dogs with colonic and rectal disease of any kind (cancer or non-cancer). This part of the body can be a very difficult region examine with current imaging methods, which also do not provide optimal spatial information important if a surgical procedure is needed. In early studies, we have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the CT pneumocolonography procedure in normal dogs, but it is important that we learn to accurately interpret the imaging findings for a wide variety of disease processes in clinical patients so that our CT diagnoses are accurate. Our goal is to compare the imaging findings obtained with CT pneumocolonography with the current standard of care of colonoscopy and colonoscopic biopsies.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 to schedule an appointment with the Internal Medicine Service. When scheduling, please indicate your interest in the CT pneumocolonography study with Dr. Steffey/Dr Marks.

Participation Requirements: In order to participate in this study, a colonoscopic exam must have been recommended for workup of your dog’s problem, and your dog must be scheduled to receive a colonoscopic exam under general anesthesia at UC Davis.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, your dog will receive a CT scan (with and without intravenous contrast material) in conjunction with carbon dioxide gas insufflated into the rectal lumen. Following CT pneumocolonography, your dog will receive the scheduled colonoscopy, which is the current standard of care for assessment of these masses, and if clinically indicated for the care of your dog, colonic biopsies or surgery will be obtained according to your discussion with your attending clinician.

Benefits: In return for participation in this study, your dog will receive a free CT scan (an approximately $800 value to you), which may directly benefit your dog, as it can provide important information for treatment recommendations that other types of imaging cannot. CT evaluation of local lymph nodes is an additional benefit as CT has been demonstrated to be very helpful in the evaluation of regional lymph nodes for metastatic disease in other types of cancer in other locations.

Owner Responsibilities: There is no additional cost to you for your dog’s participation in the study. You are financially responsible for hospital costs associated with the standard care of your dog, including abdominal ultrasound, general anesthesia, colonoscopy, hospitalization, biopsies, and any other diagnostic tests recommended for evaluation of your dog’s disease by your attending clinician.

Lung Tumors: Identifying Lymph Node Metastasis

Title: Assessment of methods of improving identification of regional lymph nodes in patients with lung cancer

Purpose of Study: Knowing whether or not there is metastatic tumor in the regional lymph nodes is very important prognostic information for dogs with lung tumors, as dogs that do not have metastatic disease in their lymph nodes in general have a much longer lifespan. Chemotherapy is often recommended for patients who have metastatic disease, but is not recommended for dogs who do not have metastatic spread. The aim of this study is to provide information that will allow us to better identify these lymph nodes at surgery, to improve the safety of surgical dissection, and to minimize surgical time during removal of these lymph nodes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements:

  • A diagnosis of a solitary lung tumor
  • Your decision to pursue surgical removal of your dog’s lung tumor

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services. A CT scan at the VMTH is part of the normal expected surgical planning for lung tumor surgery at our institution, and is the financial responsibility of the client, but may be performed under the same anesthetic episode as the planned surgery. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Procedures: During CT and surgery, special dyes will be injected intravenously or into the lung around your dog’s tumor and uptake by the regional lymph nodes will be assessed.

Benefits: Information regarding the status of your dog’s lymph nodes is very important in prognosis for this disease. This technique will help surgeons to identify and more safely remove your dog's lymph nodes at surgery; pathology of the removed lymph node(s) will provide improved information to direct recommendations that we an give you for postoperative care and treatment. If based on the initial CT results you elect to have your dog goes to surgery as part of this study, the study will retroactively pay for the cost of your dog’s CT scan (a $900 value to you).

Owner Responsibilities: There is no anticipated additional cost to you for your dog’s participation in the study. The cost of the dyes and operative imaging are covered by the study. The primary risks of this procedure are 1) allergic reaction to the drugs used to identify the lymph nodes (very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics)), and 2) air leakage from the lung at the site of the injection (if it occurs, this should be a short term problem, as removal of the affected lung will be performed as part of the tumor removal). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications. Standard anesthetic and surgical risks of lung surgery and lymph node surgery will apply and will be discussed at the time of your visit.

ON HOLD! Lymphoma (B-cell): Improving Prognosis Prediction Methods

Title: Utility of proliferation indices as prognostic markers for diffuse large B cell lymphoma in dogs

Purpose of Study: As is true for human patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, recent data supports the notion that different subtypes of canine lymphoma carry different prognoses, which may warrant different therapies. However, some subtypes of canine lymphoma that look and are classified the same behave differently. Currently, there are few markers available to help predict the outcome in individual dogs diagnosed with common subtypes of lymphoma. The purpose of this study is to:

  • Find markers that will help to better predict prognosis in individual dogs with the most common subtype of lymphoma; and,
  • Determine if these markers can be assessed in fine needle aspirate cytology samples rather than needle-core histopathology samples (the gold standard).
Mast Cell Tumors: Assessing a Potential Treatment

Title: Phase 3 study to compare the efficacy of Masitinib to placebo in the treatment of grade II or III non-resectable mast cell tumors in dogs

Purpose of Study: Surgical removal is generally recommended as the first step in treatment of mast cell tumors; however, sometimes surgery is not possible due to the size or location of the tumor or due to financial limitations. In that situation, treatment with steroids, chemotherapy or targeted therapies such as Masitinib may be beneficial in controlling the disease. Preliminary studies of Masitinib in dogs showed that it caused tumor shrinkage in 50% of dogs with mast cell tumors and increased 1- and 2-year survival rates in dogs with nonresectable mast cell tumors compared to placebo. Based on this data, Masitinib has conditional approval by the FDA for treatment of non-resectable grade 2 or 3 mast cell tumors in dogs. The objective of the study is to evaluate the anti-cancer effects of Masitinib in comparison to a placebo in dogs with grade 2 or 3 mast cell tumors that have not been previously removed or treated with chemotherapy or radiation. If this study confirms these results, the drug will become fully approved.

Contact: The Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Participation Requirements

Initial Evaluation for Participation:  Contact the Oncology Clinical Trial Coordinators via email (oncologyclinicaltrials@ucdavis.edu) or phone (530-752-0125 or 530-752-9759)

Procedures: If your dog is enrolled, a small biopsy will be taken from the mast cell tumor to confirm grade and for additional testing. Your dog will then be randomly assigned to receive treatment with either Masitinib or a placebo with two-thirds of the dogs receiving Masitinib and one-third receiving placebo. You will not know whether you are giving the study drug or the placebo (even after you dog has completed the study). Your pet will come in every other week for examination, tumor measurement, blood work and imaging tests (x-rays and/or ultrasound) to check for cancer progression and/or side effects from the drug. No more than 1 tablespoon of blood will be drawn per visit. More invasive testing (fine needle aspiration) will only occur if your veterinarian is concerned about spread of the cancer or to monitor spread to a lymph node that has already occurred. Your dog cannot receive steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during the study period, but can receive medications to treat nausea, diarrhea, infection, itchiness, and pain if needed.

Benefits: You are responsible for the initial consult visit fee at UCDavis.  If you and your dog meet the inclusion/exclusion criteria, staging will be covered by study (Blood work, Biopsy, Bone Marrow Aspirates, Radiographs, Ultrasound) regardless if your dog qualifies. 

Although not all tumors will respond to Masitinib, it is possible that the drug may help control your dog’s mast cell tumor. The information gathered from this study may help other dogs with mast cell tumors in the future by determining whether Masitinib is an effective treatment for non-resectable grade 2 or 3 mast cell tumors.

Owner Responsibilities: If you elect to participate in this study, you will be responsible for scheduling and keeping appointments every two weeks. If you have to miss an appointment, please try to reschedule as soon as possible by calling 530-752-1393 (press 3,3 to reach the Oncology Schedule Coordinator). You will also be responsible for giving your dog the study medication as directed every day and for reporting any side effects of the drug to your doctor in a timely manner.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Nasal cancer: Using a Combination of Therapies for Treatment

Title: Nasal tumors: Intra-arterial Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy to Treat Nasal Carcinoma

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to prospectively evaluate the response of nasal cancer to a combination of therapies (chemotherapy and radiation therapy) in dogs.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs diagnosed with nasal tumors

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Procedures: Dogs that are scheduled to receive radiation therapy for the treatment of nasal cancer can be enrolled in the study. Dogs will be placed into a group receiving radiation therapy alone or with chemotherapy.  Response to these treatments will be assessed with CT scans (done before and after treatment).

Benefits: The CT scans, chemotherapy administration, and part of the radiation therapy will be paid for by the study.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner will be responsible for providing follow-up information to the treating clinicians and returning the dog 4 weeks after initiation of radiation therapy for a second CT evaluation (the first is performed prior to treatment).

Prostate cancer: Evaluating Embolization as a Treatment Option

Title: Evaluation of the Use of Embolization in the Treatment of Prostatic Neoplasia

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this project is to describe the procedure of prostatic artery embolization in a group of dogs with naturally-occurring prostate cancer. A secondary objective is to evaluate the effect that prostatic artery embolization has on clinical signs and the size of the tumor.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with prostate cancer

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Procedures: Dogs will undergo prostatic artery embolization. Pre-procedural ultrasound imaging and computed tomographic findings will be compared to post-procedural ultrasound imaging and computed tomographic findings. Complications associated with the procedure will be recorded and owners will receive a questionnaire to assess the clinical signs of the dog both pre- and post-procedure.

Benefits: The benefits of enrolling in this study include financial support for both pre- and post-procedure diagnostics. Additionally, funding from this grant will be applied towards the procedure. We hope that the data acquired in this study will allow us to advance the treatment of cancer in both dogs and people.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner will be responsible for scheduling appointments (initial and 1 month follow-up) and keeping those appointments as required by protocol.

Prostate, Urethra and/or Bladder Tumors: Evaluating Urethral Stent Outcomes

Title: Prospective Evaluation of Urodynamic Testing in Dogs Undergoing Urethral Stent Placement to Relieve Malignant Urethral Obstruction

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this project is to determine the urethral and bladder pressures of dogs with cancer-induced urethral obstructions and in dogs with urethral stents.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with tumors causing obstruction of the urethra (bladder, urethra and prostate)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Procedures: Urodynamic studies will be performed at the time of stent placement. Following the urodynamic studies, a urethral stent will be placed. At 3 weeks post-stent placement, canine continence scores will be obtained from clients regarding the dog’s voiding habits and urodynamic studies will be performed again.

Benefits: The goal of placing the stent is to improve the dog’s quality of life. All anesthetic episodes (2) will be paid for by the study. Additionally, all charges associated with the bladder and urethral pressure assessment will be paid for by the study. There are 2 major study benefits:

  1. We will be able to inform clients of the pressures in their dog’s bladder and urethra and discuss the possible implications of this; and,
  2. Financial compensation.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner will be responsible for scheduling appointments (initial and 3 weeks after stent placement) and keeping those appointments as required by protocol. Additionally, the owner will need to fill out forms related to their dog’s continence status.

ON HOLD! Sarcomas and Melanomas:Sarcomas and Melanomas: Evaluating a New Treatment

Title: Radioimmunotherapy for metastatic sarcomas and melanomas

Purpose of Study: We are trying to develop better ways to treat advanced cancer. Specifically we are developing ways to activate the immune system to attack cancer. We are hoping to benefit dogs with advanced cancer and hoping this information may also help inform future human clinical trials.

ON HOLD! Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Evaluating a New Treatment

Title: Pre-clinical evaluation of intratumoral plasmid IL-12 + electroporation in dogs with spontaneous soft tissue sarcoma

Purpose of Study: We have been evaluating ways to activate the immune system into recognizing that a tumor is foreign and attacking it. The purpose of this study is to determine if injecting this investigational drug (Interleukin-12 plasmid or pIL-12 that is administered using electroporation) prior to surgery will help activate the immune system and help stop the tumor from coming back or spreading. This therapy is under investigation in the United States for treatment of cancer and has not been approved for sale by the US FDA for human or veterinary use.

Variety of Tumors: Assessing Minimally Invasive Tumor Ablation

Title: Thermal ablation of cancer in dogs and cats

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the outcome of treating veterinary patients with minimally invasive tumor ablation technologies including cryoablation and microwave ablation. These methods are growing in the treatment of a variety of cancers in the human medical field, but information in veterinary patients is currently very limited. To date we have completed a study on cryoablation in nasal tumor patients, and this technique has been very successful in reducing tumor volume in nasal tumor patients – although there are no more spots in the formal nasal tumor study, because of this success, we continue to offer this technique as a clinical service to nasal cancer patients, and are expanding the types of cancer that we are evaluating.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey. The coordinators will likely advise you to send your pet's medical records and imaging results for Dr. Steffey's review. If, based on this information, your pet is deemed an appropriate candidate, an appointment will be scheduled.

Participation Requirements: In order to participate in this study, your pet must have **solitary** malignant soft tissue or bony mass **that is deemed amenable to ablation**. Tumor types that MAY be amenable to this treatment include lung tumors, kidney tumors, adrenal tumors, and bone tumors in certain locations. however determination of eligibility is complex and relates to the size of the lesion as well as proximity to/involvement of other important nearby structures. Tumors that are superficial (involving or near to the skin) or that involve the gastrointestinal tract are not amenable to this treatment.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, under general anesthesia, ablation probes will be placed into your pet’s mass under ultrasound guidance and the tumor will be ablated.

Benefits: This treatment method may only be palliative, but it is our hope that in appropriately selected patients, we may improve quality of life as well as longevity.

Owner Responsibilities: The study will cover the cost of the ablation probes and generator. Costs of pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of the disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility.

Variety of Tumors: Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping

Title: Identification of sentinel lymph nodes with intraoperative fluorescence

Purpose of Study: Near-infrared fluorescent imaging utilizes special wavelengths of light to identify important structures, and is used in surgery to improve surgical decision making. The fluorescent light is generated by a special contrast agent (a “fluorophore”) that is injected into the patient. When a special light source is used to illuminate the surgical site, any tissue in which this fluorophore is located will glow, aiding the surgeon in identifying the location or extent of disease. Based on early experiments in rodents and human clinical trials, this very sensitive tool has the potential to improve surgical decision-making and improve overall treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this imaging modality in veterinary patients presenting with natural disease processes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements: Dogs scheduled for surgery to treat their primary tumor, and for whom clients are interested in improving their pet’s staging information by lymph node biopsy. Dogs most likely to benefit from this technique include those with primary lung tumors, mast cell tumors, oral cancers, and carcinomas in general, as these are types of tumors that tend to exhibit spread by the lymphatic system. Tumors may be external (skin associated) or internal. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by Dr. Michele Steffey on the Soft Tissue Surgery Service.

Procedures: The best fluorophore for your pet’s tumor will be administered either subcutaneously or intravenously, at a dose and timing considered to be optimal by your attending veterinarian.

Benefits: Preliminary, not yet published results have demonstrated that the fluorescent imaging is very helpful in locating the important lymph nodes at surgery, which often reduces the amount of dissection needed, and may reduce the amount of time under anesthesia. The purpose of this study is to aid in identifying lymph nodes for improved staging (lymph node biopsy) at the time your pet’s primary tumor is removed. It is hoped, but is not known, if there will be a specific benefit to your individual pet. Depending upon your pet’s specific tumor type and the biopsy results, use of this technique and lymph node biopsy may or may not impact the postoperative treatment recommendations provided to your dog.

Owner Responsibilities: The cost of the fluorophore and special imaging is covered by the study. There are no risks associated with the imaging itself, as it only involves light; there is no radiation exposure to the patient. The fluorophores used in this study are FDA-approved for use in humans and have been used without complication in our hospital for the past 18 months. The primary risk of this procedure is associated with injection of these drugs is an allergic reaction, which is very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications.

Variety of Tumors and Diseases: Improving Operative Detection of Tumors

Title: Fluorescent imaging of cancer

Purpose of Study: Near-infrared fluorescent imaging utilizes special wavelengths of light to identify important structures, and is used in surgery to improve surgical decision making. The fluorescent light is generated by a special contrast agent (a “fluorophore”) that is injected into the patient. When a special light source is used to illuminate the surgical site, any tissue in which this fluorophore is located will glow, aiding the surgeon in identifying the location or extent of disease. Based on early experiments in rodents and human clinical trials, this very sensitive tool has the potential to improve surgical decision-making and improve overall treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this imaging modality in veterinary patients presenting with naturally occurring neuroendocrine tumors disease processes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with the following conditions are most likely to benefit from this study: hyperparathyroidism, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, adrenal cancer, thymoma, mammary (breast) cancer, lung cancer, anal sac gland cancer, oral cancer, mast cell tumor. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, the best fluorophore for your pet’s tumor will be administered or intravenously, at a dose and timing considered to be optimal by your attending veterinarian.

Benefits: It is hoped, but is not known if there will be a specific benefit to your individual pet. Fluorescent imaging may or may not improve operative localization and dissection of your pet’s tumor.

Owner Responsibilities: Costs of standard pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of your pet’s disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility. The cost of the fluorophore and special imaging is covered by the study. There are no risks associated with the imaging itself, as it only involves light; there is no radiation exposure to the patient. The fluorophores used in this study are FDA-approved for use in humans and have been used without complication in our hospital for the past 18 months. The primary risk of this procedure is associated with injection of these drugs is an allergic reaction, which is very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications.

Eyes (Ophthalmology)
NEW! Sudden Blindness: Comparing Disease Assessment Tools

Title: Comparison of longitudinal changes in chromatic pupillometry in normal dogs and dogs with sudden acquired retinal degeneration or optic pathway disease

Purpose of Study: Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) is a common cause of permanent blindness in dogs. However, the underlying cause for SARDS is unknown and no treatment exists. Dogs usually become rapidly blind with no obvious structural abnormalities in the eye itself. We are interested in better understanding this devastating disease, and especially how it changes over time with hopes of identifying better methods for diagnosing SARDS, differentiating it from other similar diseases, monitoring dogs with this disease, and eventually to aid in evaluation of treatments when they become available.

Contact: Monica Motta at mjmotta@ucdavis.edu or 530-752-6967

Participation Requirements: Dogs that:

  • Have Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)
  • Have neurological disease affecting vision
  • Have normal vision and a healthy eye and would be an excellent control subject for this study

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures:

  • Routine ophthalmic examination
    • Dilation of the eyes to examine the back of the eyes
    • Staining of the eye with fluorescein to assess for corneal ulcers
  • Videotaping pupillary responses to colored light (chromatic pupillometry)
  • Electroretinography (ERG)
  • Light-based ultrasound of the retina (Fourier-domain optical coherence tomography)
  • Digital photography of the eye (Fundus photography)

Some procedures may involve sedation. Prior to the procedure, your dog will be fasted for a 12-18 hour period in case sedation is required.

Benefits: The study will cover all study-related procedures once your dog is enrolled in the trial and any costs up to $200 that are associated with complications from the ophthalmic examination, diagnostic testing or sedation.

Results from this study will hopefully aid our ability to better predict the onset and progression of SARDS and other brain diseases affecting the optic pathway, and will lead to the development of better tools for differentiating SARDS from blinding diseases that affect the central nervous system. We also hope to identify better methods for diagnosing SARDS, monitoring dogs with this disease, and eventually for evaluating treatments as they become available.

Owner Responsibilities: We expect that participation in this portion of the clinical trial will last for one year with a total of 4 half-day visits. If you agree to have your dog participate in the trial, you will be responsible for covering any fees or costs associated with determining a diagnosis or eligibility for the trial and bringing your dog in for evaluation at all study time points.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS): Understanding the Disease

Title: Proteomics and genomics of canine sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome

Purpose of Study: Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) is a common cause of permanent blindness in dogs. Dogs usually present with rapid onset of blindness with no obvious abnormalities in the retina; however, the underlying cause for SARDS is unknown and no treatment exists. We are interested in characterizing this disease better with hopes of identifying protein biomarkers and/or the genetic components of this disease.

Contact: Contact: Monica Motta at mjmotta@ucdavis.edu or 530-752-6967

Participation Requirements:

  • Dogs diagnosed with Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome (SARDS)
  • Dogs with healthy retinas

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures:

  • Routine ophthalmic examination
    • Dilation of the eyes to examine the back of the eyes
    • Staining of the eye with fluorescein to assess for corneal ulcers
  • Digital photography of the eye (fundus photography)
  • Blood collection for DNA analysis and serum storage
  • Electroretinogram (ERG) to measure retinal function

Benefits: Costs of any complications from the ophthalmic examination, diagnostic testing, ERG, sedation, or blood sampling will be covered by the study up to $200.

Results from this study will hopefully lead to a better ability to predict the onset and progression of this disease. If a gene that causes this disease is found, then we may be able to develop a genetic test to know which dogs have or do not have this disease.

Owner Responsibilities: You will be responsible for the cost of the ophthalmic exam and all diagnostic tests performed.

For most dogs, we expect that participation in this clinical trial will last for one visit for the ophthalmic exam, diagnostic testing and blood collection. However, we may ask you to come back for repeated blood sampling. We will also ask you to fill out a questionnaire regarding your dog’s history.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy: Understanding the Disease in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers

Title: Phenotype and Genotype of Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers

Purpose of Study: Corneal endothelial dystrophy (CED) is a devastating disease in dogs that can result in blindness and severe ocular pain from secondary complications. The endothelial cells comprise the most inner aspect of the cornea and are responsible for maintaining a proper fluid balance. This function is critical to ensuring that the cornea remains transparent for vision. In many animals, including dogs, corneal endothelial cells have a very limited capacity to regenerate following injury. In canine patients with CED, the endothelial cells degenerate until the cells still remaining can no longer function properly. This results in swelling of the cornea (edema) which results in decreased vision as well as formation of small fluid-filled blisters (bullae) on the cornea which can rupture and cause ocular discomfort. There are palliative treatments such as hypertonic saline to decrease corneal bullae formation but the only definitive treatment for this condition is a corneal transplant (penetrating keratoplasty). Unfortunately, corneal transplants are rarely performed in canine patients with CED due to the expense of the surgery and follow-up care, relatively high risk of complications, and lack of appropriate donor tissue.

Several dog breeds, including Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers, are seen more commonly for CED in comparison to other breeds. This observation suggests that this disease may have a genetic component. A similar condition called Fuch’s endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) exists in humans and several genes associated with FECD have been identified. We propose to identify the region of the dog genome associated with CED in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers. In order to do this, we will perform thorough eye examinations and use non-invasive advanced imaging techniques to examine Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers with CED and age-matched control dogs. We will collect blood from these dogs to obtain DNA. The entire canine genome will be evaluated for an association with CED. This work will be used to identify the gene(s) responsible for this condition in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers. The ultimate goal will be to develop a genetic test for CED in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers and possibly other breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Dachshunds, with an increased risk of CED.

Contact: Contact: Monica Motta at mjmotta@ucdavis.edu or 530-752-6967

Participation Requirements:

  • Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers with Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy
  • Healthy Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers (>7 years of age)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Dogs must receive a diagnosis by a veterinary ophthalmologist for corneal endothelial dystrophy.

Procedures:

  • Blood collection for DNA analysis
  • Ophthalmic examination, including digital slit lamp biomicroscopy, Schirmer tear test followed by dilation and staining of the eye wtih fluroescein and digital photography
  • Noninvasive advanced corneal imaging with ultrasonic pachymetry, confocal biomicroscopy and spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (all of which will require sedation)

Benefits: Benefits include an ophthalmic examination at no cost with thorough characterization of disease to aid in monitoring for progression.

Owner Responsibilities: No ophthalmic medications can be administered 48 h prior to examination. Food cannot be given in the morning in preparation for sedation.

Printable Flyer for Boston Terriers (PDF)
Printable Flyer for German Shorthaired and Wirehaired Pointers (PDF)

Dry Eye Syndrome (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca): Understanding the Genetics in West Highland White Terriers

Title: The Genetics of Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca in West Highland White Terriers

Purpose of Study: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or dry eye is a devastating disease that causes ocular pain and potentially blindness. It is seen more frequently in West Highland White Terriers in comparison to many other breeds. We are interested identifying the genetic components of this disease as well as characterizing this disease better with examination and testing of the tear film and ocular surface and in select patients using advanced imaging techniques.

Contact: Contact: Monica Motta at mjmotta@ucdavis.edu or 530-752-6967

Participation Requirements:

  • West Highland White Terriers with Dry Eye Syndrome (affected); or,
  • West Highland White Terriers >7 years of age with no ocular abnormalities (control)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Affected patients must receive a diagnosis by a veterinary ophthalmologist for dry eye. Dogs without ocular disease (controls) require no prior initial examination.

Procedures:

  • Routine ophthalmic examination and tear film tests
  • Blood collection for DNA analysis
  • Tears will be collected from the conjunctival sac using a blunt-tip needle attached to a syringe from both eyes. Tear collection will be performed at a separate time from the initial ophthalmic examination and tests.
  • Conjunctival biopsy: Two (2) minutes after regional anesthesia is applied, a small (approximately 5 mm x 2 mm) piece of conjunctiva will be removed from inside the lower eyelid.
  • Select patients only:
    • Advanced imaging: Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (non-contact imaging) and confocal biomicroscopy (imaging in which a gel on the instrument contacts the cornea) will also be performed to carefully image the cornea along with digital slit lamp photography.
    • Sedation for advanced imaging: In order to keep dogs relaxed and comfortable but awake for the advanced imaging, your dog will be given a mild sedative. The sedation chosen for your pet will depend on your dog’s age and health status.

Benefits: There will be no cost to you for your participation in this study and your dog will receive a very thorough eye examination at no charge. If a corneal ulcer occurs at the time of evaluation, the cost of medications, recheck examinations, and procedures (e.g., cotton-tipped applicator or Diamond burr debridement, grid keratotomy) will be performed at no cost to you if they are performed at UC Davis. If a surgical procedure is required, you will receive $200 of compensation towards the procedure if it is performed at UC Davis. If your dog has KCS, you will be compensated for taking part in this study with 2 months worth of immunosuppressive medication (e.g., cyclosporine/tacrolimulus) ointment or drops. The study will also cover the costs of any complications from the sedation, blood sampling or imaging up to $200.

Results from this study will allow us to better predict the onset and progression of this disease. If a gene that causes this disease is found, then we may be able to develop a genetic test to know which dogs have or do not have this disease.

Owner Responsibilities: Although there is no cost to participate in the study, you will need to cover any costs due to complications from sedation, blood sampling, or examination (including corneal ulceration) beyond $200. Additionally, please do not administer any medications to treat your dog’s dry eye for one week prior to the appointment other than the lubricant provided to you. If your dog is participating in the advanced imaging, please do not feed your dog the morning of the appointment (water is fine), as the sedation administered can cause vomiting.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Infection of the Cornea (Infectious Keratitis): Finding the Best Sample Collection Method

Title: Qualitative and quantitative effects of 0.5% proparacaine on corneal bacterial culture results in dogs, cats, and horses

Purpose of Study: If your veterinarian suspects that your dog is suffering from infectious keratitis (infection of the cornea) or a deep corneal ulcer, they will recommend taking a swab sample from the surface of your pet’s cornea in order to see what type of infection your pet has. Historically at UC Davis, we have used a topical anesthetic named proparacaine, that is applied to the surface of the eye before any samples are taken to minimize discomfort. Recently, a concern has been raised that proparacaine may inhibit growth of infectious organisms in the laboratory after a corneal swab sample is obtained. This means that even if your dog has a corneal infection, we may not be able to grow the bacteria or fungi in the lab if proparacaine has been used before sample collection. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine the best procedure to follow when collecting culture samples, thereby ensuring an appropriate diagnostic work up and treatment plan while minimizing discomfort.

Contact: Dr. Syndey Cartiff (sydney.cartiff@gmail.com or 530-601-7356)

Participation Requirements: Dogs showing clinical signs of infectious keratitis

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: After your dog is randomly assigned to one of two groups, a veterinarian will have a corneal sample taken from the affected eye of your dog twice. The first swab will be taken without a topical anesthetic and inoculated into a culture medium for analysis. Depending on the assigned group, your dog will then have either a drop of a sterile topical anesthetic (proparacaine) or sterile saline (i.e., no anesthetic) placed on to the surface of the affected eye. We will then swab the affected eye again for both groups as described above.

Benefits: You will be charged for the first culture (approximately $82) just as owners of animals not in the study would be charged. However, the study will cover all costs associated with the second culture collection.

Possible benefits include finding bacteria or fungi not routinely collected after use of a topical anesthetic, and helping to establish the best way to collect samples from future patients with infectious keratitis. Results of this study may be extrapolated to benefit human research as well.

Owner Responsibilities: You will be responsible for bringing your dog to the scheduled ophthalmology appointment and covering the cost for the first culture.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Nasolacrimal Apparatus Blockage: A multidisciplinary, minimally invasive treatment

Title: Stenting as a Treatment for Nasolacrimal Apparatus Obstruction

Purpose of Study: Tears from the ocular surface are drained from the eye through several important structures collectively known as the nasolacrimal apparatus (NLA). This frequently becomes blocked and sometimes infected leading to discomfort, tear staining, eye discharge, and skin inflammation, all of which are associated with a decreased quality of life. Clinically, NLA obstructions can be very frustrating to treat and can often lead to permanent obstruction.

We have established a team at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital consisting of specialists with expertise in Ophthalmology, Internal Medicine, Endoscopy, Diagnostic Imaging, and Interventional Radiology and have utilized fluoroscopy to successfully treat NLA obstruction in dogs. We have utilized fluoroscopy, CT, and endoscopy and capitalized on improvements in instrumentation and minimally invasive techniques developed for catheterization of other challenging locations such as the ureters to successfully treat NLA obstruction.

To date, our team has successfully cannulated the nasolacrimal duct of 5 dogs and 1 horse referred for NLA obstruction, all of which we have managed and monitored for at least 8 weeks here at the VMTH. The initial clinical response in these patients has been extremely encouraging with all 6 cases demonstrating what the owners define as complete resolution of signs.

Based upon the success of this initial pilot study, we have initiated a clinical trial to recruit and treat more cases and to evaluate more objective outcome measures.

Contact: Please call 530-752-3937 to schedule your initial visit to the UC Davis Veterinary Ophthalmology Service.

Participation Requirements: Dogs demonstrating signs of nasolacrimal apparatus (NLA) blockage

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None

Procedures: After an initial examination at the UCD VMTH to ensure the patient meets study entry criteria, owners will provide informed consent and complete a questionnaire concerning their dog’s signs. Patients will then undergo initial testing including CT scanning of the NLA, and NLA stenting using endoscopy and fluoroscopy. The stent will be left in position for at least 6 weeks. After stent removal, similar testing including CT scanning will again be performed, and owners will repeat the same questionnaire. Diagnostic test results from before and after stenting will be compared. Some financial subsidization of case management costs is available through the clinical trial.

Benefits: The study will subsidize costs associated with the second CT scan. Based upon results from the 6 patients in the pilot study, it is possible but not assured that your pet will have reduction or resolution of signs associated with NLA obstruction. Information acquired during this study will allow us to advance the treatment for NLA blockage for veterinary patients worldwide.

Owner Responsibilities: You will be responsible for all costs except those associated with the repeat CT scan following stent removal. Additionally, you will need to bring your dog to the VMTH for all scheduled appointments including a follow-up visit at least 6-8 weeks after the procedure. Lastly, you will be required to complete questionnaires prior to and after the NLA stenting procedure.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Genetics
NEW! Old Age (Longevity) in Large Breeds

Title: Venous Blood Sample Collection for DNA Extraction and Analysis in Aged Large Breed Dogs

Purpose: Many current studies are aimed at trying to identify genes associated with diseases in dogs, but we are looking to see if there might exist ‘protective genes’ that could help protect against these same life-limiting diseases in the dog.

Contact: Miriam Aguilar at miraguilar@ucdavis.edu

Participation Requirements: Large breeds that are over 50 lbs and 12 years old (or older) with particular interest in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Boxers, German Shepherds and any giant breeds

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure required is the collection and submission of a blood sample for DNA extraction. For more information about submitting samples, please contact Miriam Aguilar (details above).

Benefits: Identification of such genes may help us understand why some dogs or dog breeds live longer, and hopefully lead to lengthening the lifespans for our faithful companions.

Referring Veterinarian Responsibilities: To collect and submit a blood sample and medical records.

Printable Flyer (PDF) - Golden Retrievers

Fungal Infections (Aspergillus spp) in German Shepherds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and Hungarian Vizslas

Title: Genetic analysis of the susceptibility to systemic Aspergillus infections in dogs

Purpose: Systemic fungal infections such as aspergillosis are rare in animals with a competent immune system; however, certain dog breeds (namely the German shepherd, Rhodesian ridgeback and Hungarian vizsla) are reported to have a higher risk of this uncommon disease. A genetic etiology is suspected to cause this over-representation. We propose to use a technique called genome-wide association analysis to evaluate the differences in the genetic material of affected dogs (dogs infected with Aspergillus spp.).

Contact: Dr. Jonathan Dear, DVM, DACVIM at jddear@ucdavis.edu

Participation Requirements:

  • German Shepherds with systemic Aspergillus spp. infections
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks with systemic Aspergillus spp. infections
  • Hungarian Vizslas with systemic Aspergillus spp. infections

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure required is the collection and submission of a blood sample for DNA extraction. For more information about submitting samples, please contact Dr. Jonathan Dear (details above).

Benefits: Results from this study will hopefully lead to the development of DNA tests that would identify dogs at risk for developing systemic aspergillosis. These tests would help simplify the diagnosis of the disease by identifying at risk individuals and allow breeders to avoid producing affected dogs. Furthermore, if the genetic traits responsible for this disease in dogs are shared with human patients, precision medicine can be used to help develop targeted therapies to treat this life-threatening disease.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner or referring veterinarian needs to collect and submit a blood sample and medical records.

Printable Flyers

  • German Shepherds (PDF)
  • Vizslas (PDF)
Addison's Disease in Any Breed

Title: Canine Genetic Disease Project - Addison's Disease

Purpose: Addison’s Disease or Hypoadrenocorticism is a deficiency in the secretion of both glucocorticoids and mineralcorticoids from the adrenal cortex. The cause is unknown; however, there appears to be an immune mediated destruction of the adrenal gland in most cases. Symptoms include inappetance, vomiting, lethargy and weakness. An ACTH stimulation test to evaluate the ability of the adrenal gland to secrete cortisol can be used for diagnosis. Affected dogs show low cortisol concentrations, and no increase in cortisol following the ACTH test. Treatment for this disease includes fluid therapy, replacement of glucocorticoids and mineralcorticoids, and hormone therapy.

The overall purpose of this study is three-fold:

  • To evaluate the mode of inheritance of canine diseases;
  • To identify the genes responsible for disease expression; and,
  • To join the tools of statistics with the promise of molecular genetics.

Contact: For more information, please contact Dr. Anita Oberbauer amoberbauer@ucdavis.edu), Dr. T.R. Famula (trfamula@ucdavis.edu), or Janelle Belanger (jmbelanger@ucdavis.edu).

Participation Requirements:

  • Bearded Collie, Great Dane, Leonberger, Portuguese Water Dog, Standard Poodle & West Highland White Terrier of all ages diagnosed with Addison’s Disease
  • Healthy dogs of the above-mentioned breeds (> 7 years old)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure required is the collection and submission of a blood sample for DNA extraction. Instructions for sample submission, questionnaire regarding your dog’s health and owner informed consent document can be found here. Frequently asked questions and answers can be found here.

Benefits: There is no guarantee that your dog will benefit from its participation in this study. However, such participation may provide veterinarians and researchers with additional information and a better understanding of canine diseases, which could ultimately influence the course of treatment or genetic testing to help your dog and other animals in the future.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner or referring veterinarian needs to collect and submit a blood sample.

Brain Tumors in Brachycephalic Breeds

Title: Genome wide association in canine primary brain tumors

Purpose: Brachycephaly, a trait characterized by a short muzzle and wide head, is associated with brain tumors and respiratory problems. This trait is found in several breeds, including Boxers, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers We are attempting to uncover the genetic cause for brachycephaly in dogs while looking for genes linked to brachycephaly that may increase the risk of developing a brain tumor.

Contact: For information, please email Dr. Dickinson at pjdickinson@ucdavis.edu or call Christy Chessman (530-752-1393 or 530-754-0606).

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Examination by Dr. Dickinson

Procedures: We are collecting DNA from dogs known or suspected to have a brain tumor. For information, please contact Dr. Dickinson (pjdickinson@ucdavis.edu) or Christy Chessman (530-752-1393 or 530-754-0606).

Benefits: There is no direct benefit to you or your dog; however, identification of these genes may allow for:

  • Selective breeding to reduce the frequency of brain tumors in brachycephalic dogs
  • Possible new therapies targeting defective genes

For dogs with confirmed tumors, we can discuss treatment options and available clinical trials that could help treat your dog's tumor.

Owner Responsibilities: Please contact Dr. Dickinson (pjdickinson@ucdavis.edu) or Christy Chessman (530-752-1393 or 530-754-0606).

Cleft Lip and/or Palate in Any Breed

Title: Understanding the genetic basis of cleft lip and/or cleft palate in dogs

Purpose of Study: Cleft lip and/or cleft palate are developmental defects that result in the failure of the roof of the mouth to properly form. This results in an inability to properly nurse and often leads to euthanasia. The aim of this study is to identify the genes responsible for these birth defects and prevent them in future litters.

Contact: Katie Lucot (kllucot@ucdavis.edu)

Participation Requirements: Dogs must have a cleft lip and/ or cleft palate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: Whole blood samples from dogs with cleft lip and/or cleft palate, parents, and littermates will be collected. The cleft will also be photographed.

Benefits: Understanding the genetic basis of such a defect will allow for the prevention of it in future litters. There are no direct benefits to participating in this study.

Owner Responsibilities: Owners need only to submit samples along with a signed consent form.

Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers

Title: Phenotype and Genotype of Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers

Purpose of Study: Corneal endothelial dystrophy (CED) is a devastating disease in dogs that can result in blindness and severe ocular pain from secondary complications. The endothelial cells comprise the most inner aspect of the cornea and are responsible for maintaining a proper fluid balance. This function is critical to ensuring that the cornea remains transparent for vision. In many animals, including dogs, corneal endothelial cells have a very limited capacity to regenerate following injury. In canine patients with CED, the endothelial cells degenerate until the cells still remaining can no longer function properly. This results in swelling of the cornea (edema) which results in decreased vision as well as formation of small fluid-filled blisters (bullae) on the cornea which can rupture and cause ocular discomfort. There are palliative treatments such as hypertonic saline to decrease corneal bullae formation but the only definitive treatment for this condition is a corneal transplant (penetrating keratoplasty). Unfortunately, corneal transplants are rarely performed in canine patients with CED due to the expense of the surgery and follow-up care, relatively high risk of complications, and lack of appropriate donor tissue.

Several dog breeds, including Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers, are seen more commonly for CED in comparison to other breeds. This observation suggests that this disease may have a genetic component. A similar condition called Fuch’s endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) exists in humans and several genes associated with FECD have been identified. We propose to identify the region of the dog genome associated with CED in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers. In order to do this, we will perform thorough eye examinations and use non-invasive advanced imaging techniques to examine Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers with CED and age-matched control dogs. We will collect blood from these dogs to obtain DNA. The entire canine genome will be evaluated for an association with CED. This work will be used to identify the gene(s) responsible for this condition in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers. The ultimate goal will be to develop a genetic test for CED in Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers and possibly other breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Dachshunds, with an increased risk of CED.

Contact: Dr. Sara Thomasy (smthomasy@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1770)

Participation Requirements:

  • Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers with Corneal Endothelial Dystrophy
  • Healthy Boston Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and German Wirehaired Pointers (>7 years of age)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Dogs must receive a diagnosis by a veterinary ophthalmologist for corneal endothelial dystrophy.

Procedures:

  • Blood collection for DNA analysis
  • Ophthalmic examination, including digital slit lamp biomicroscopy, Schirmer tear test followed by dilation and staining of the eye wtih fluroescein and digital photography
  • Noninvasive advanced corneal imaging with ultrasonic pachymetry, confocal biomicroscopy and spectral domain-optical coherence tomography (all of which will require sedation)

Benefits: Benefits include an ophthalmic examination at no cost with thorough characterization of disease to aid in monitoring for progression.

Owner Responsibilities: No ophthalmic medications can be administered 48 h prior to examination. Food cannot be given in the morning in preparation for sedation.

Printable Flyer for Boston Terriers (PDF)
Printable Flyer for German Shorthaired Pointers (PDF)

Epilepsy in Multiple Breeds

Title: Canine Genetic Disease Project - Epilepsy

Purpose: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain (lasting from seconds to minutes). Seizures are characterized by jerking of the limbs, anxiety, salivation, vocalizing, and loss of bodily functions (urination/defecation). Epilepsy can be caused by metabolic disorders, infectious diseases, brain injury, toxins, or brain tumors. A genetic seizure condition in dogs can occur called idiopathic (of unknown cause) or inherited epilepsy. Since a dog with idiopathic epilepsy shows no recognizable abnormalities, it is assumed to be an inherited condition in most breeds and demonstrated to be heritable in some breeds. Treatment of seizures is usually two-fold which includes treatment of the underlying problem (infection, tumor, injury) and reducing or eliminating the seizure episodes with anticonvulsant medication.

The overall purpose of this study is three-fold:

  • To evaluate the mode of inheritance of canine diseases;
  • To identify the genes responsible for disease expression; and,
  • To join the tools of statistics with the promise of molecular genetics.

Contact: For more information, please contact Dr. Anita Oberbauer amoberbauer@ucdavis.edu), Dr. T.R. Famula (trfamula@ucdavis.edu), or Janelle Belanger (jmbelanger@ucdavis.edu).

Participation Requirements:

  • Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Sheepdog, English Mastiff, Giant Schanuzer, and Poodles (Standard, Miniature, and Toy) of all ages diagnosed with Epilepsy
  • Healthy dogs of the above-mentioned breeds (> 7 years old)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure required is the collection and submission of a blood sample for DNA extraction. Instructions for sample submission, questionnaire regarding your dog’s health and owner informed consent document can be found here. Frequently asked questions and answers can be found here.

Benefits: There is no guarantee that your dog will benefit from its participation in this study. However, such participation may provide veterinarians and researchers with additional information and a better understanding of canine diseases, which could ultimately influence the course of treatment or genetic testing to help your dog and other animals in the future.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner or referring veterinarian needs to collect and submit a blood sample.

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in Any Breed

Title: Identifying the genes responsible for hypertrophic osteodystrophy in Weiaraners and other susceptible breeds

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to identify the molecular basis for the bone disease, hypertrophic osteodystrophy.

Contact: Dr. Noa Safra (nsafra@ucdavis.edu)

Participation Requirements: Any dog diagnosed with HOD can be included.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Radiographic images suggestive of a diagnosis of HOD, together with patient signalment, history and response to treatment are required in order to participate in the study.

Procedures: The only procedure involved a DNA extraction analysis of a blood sample submitted by the owner.

Benefits: There are no direct benefits for enrolling your dog in this study; however, there is a long-term benefit for susceptible breeds, such as the Weimaraner. Once the gene(s) and mutation(s) that predispose Weimaraners to HOD are identified, breeders will be able to select against HOD.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner only needs to submit a blood sample in an EDTA tube from their affected dog for DNA extraction.

Myasthenia Gravis in Any Breed

Title: MHC Haplotyping of dogs with Acquired Myasthenia Gravis

Purpose of Study: Acquired myasthenia gravis is an immune mediated disease. In people, there is an association between genes (HLA DR3) and the myasthenia gravis. If the same is true in dogs, it may allow us to identify dogs at risk before the development of disease, and it may allow us to develop new treatments. The purpose of this study is to determine if dogs with acquired myasthenia gravis have a similar genes (MHC haplotype). We will use DNA collected from blood cells to do the genetic analysis. The genetic analysis will be done in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Contact: Contact Dr. Vernau at (530) 752-1393, (530) 304-9450, or kmvernau@ucdavis.edu

Participation Requirements: Dogs with a confirmed diagnosis of acquired Myasthenia Gravis.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure involved a DNA analysis of a blood sample submitted by the owner (at least 5 mls) in 1-2 EDTA tubes.

Benefits: There is no direct benefit of this study for you or your dog; however, the information may allow us to identify dogs that are at risk and develop new treatments.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner only needs to send in a blood sample that has been collected in 1-2 tubes of EDTA by over-night FedEx, Monday to Thursday.

Pulmonary Hypertension in Any Breed

Title: The Role of Genetics in Canine Pulmonary Hypertension and the Response to Standard Treatment with Sildenafil

Purpose: We are investigating the role of a common canine genetic variant on the condition of pulmonary hypertension. This genetic variant is being evaluated to see if it impacts the severity of disease or the response to the oral medication, sildenafil citrate, the most commonly used drug for the treatment of this condition. Information provided by this study will provide better guidelines for the treatment of dogs with pulmonary hypertension.

Contact: For more information, please contact Dr. Joshua Stern at jstern@ucdavis.edu or 530-752-2475

Participation Requirements: Dogs diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension

Initial Evaluation for Participation: 

  • Diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension confirmed by a complete echocardiographic study that was done by the UC Davis VMTH Cardiology service; and,
  • A recommendation from the veterinarian to give oral sildenafil for treatment of the condition.

Procedures: If you agree to be involved in this study:

  • Initial visit: We will collect a small blood sample and then perform a non-invasive assessment of blood flow, which will involve shaving a small area (the size of a postage stamp). You will be asked to give the sildenafil orally to your dog as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • 25-35 days later: We need you to return to the hospital while your pet is receiving the medication to have the echocardiogram, blood sampling and shaved patch for vascular function assessment performed again.
  • You (the owner) will be asked to fill out a brief health questionnaire for your dog at each visit.

Benefits: There is no charge for you to allow your dog to participate in this clinical trial. The study will cover all costs associated with the diagnostic tests, examination fees and the 1-month supply of sildenafil medication. You will be responsible for covering costs associated with any adverse effects that your dog experiences secondary to the prescribed medication.

We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include better understanding of the disease process and mechanisms for predicting patients response to medical therapy.

Owner Responsibilities: You will be asked to complete two brief questionnaires (one at each visit), administer all prescribed medications for at least 30 days, and return while your pet is receiving this medication for a reevaluation appointment at the end of the 30-day period.

Addison's Disease in Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

Title: Canine Addison’s Disease

Purpose: Addison’s disease in the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever (NSDTR) has a complicated presentation, as the disease manifests as early as 7 weeks of age and as old as 11 years, and in some cases, can be observed in conjunction with other diseases (e.g., hypothyroidism, immune-mediated polyarthritis, and various eye problems). Sequencing of the canine genome allowed scientists to create powerful new tools (e.g., SNP arrays) to investigate inherited diseases. Previous studies found a significantly associated chromosomal region in dogs affected with Addison’s disease under 1 year of age. We are currently investigating a candidate causal mutation for the juvenile onset form of the disease within that same region.

Contact: For more information, please contact Dr. Danika Bannasch dlbannasch@ucdavis.edu) or Emily Brown (eabrown@ucdavis.edu).

Participation Requirements:

  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers (adults and puppies) diagnosed with Addison’s disease
  • Puppies of other breeds diagnosed with Addison’s disease

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure required is the collection and submission of a blood sample for DNA extraction. Please contact Dr. Danika Bannasch (dlbannasch@ucdavis.edu) or Emily Brown (eabrown@ucdavis.edu) for more information about submitting samples.

Benefits: There is no direct benefit of this study for you or your dog at this time; however, gaining a better understanding of the genetic etiology of juvenile and adult onset Addison’s Disease may lead to the development of a DNA based test that will allow breeders to make informed breeding decisions.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner or referring veterinarian needs to collect and submit a blood sample.

Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy in Bearded Collies

Title: Canine Genetic Disease Project - Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy

Purpose: Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy (SLO) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes a loss of toenails in many breeds, including Bearded Collies. The age of onset is typically between 3-8 years of age affecting 1-2 nails and eventually progressing to all nails. Scientists believe that heredity may be one of the contributing causes of this disease.

The overall purpose of this study is three-fold:

  • To evaluate the mode of inheritance of canine diseases;
  • To identify the genes responsible for disease expression; and,
  • To join the tools of statistics with the promise of molecular genetics.

Contact: For more information, please contact Dr. Anita Oberbauer amoberbauer@ucdavis.edu), Dr. T.R. Famula (trfamula@ucdavis.edu), or Janelle Belanger (jmbelanger@ucdavis.edu).

Participation Requirements:

  • Bearded Collies of all ages diagnosed with SLO
  • Healthy Bearded Collies (> 8 years old)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure required is the collection and submission of a blood sample for DNA extraction. Instructions for sample submission, questionnaire regarding your dog’s health and owner informed consent document can be found here. Frequently asked questions and answers can be found here.

Benefits: There is no guarantee that your dog will benefit from its participation in this study. However, such participation may provide veterinarians and researchers with additional information and a better understanding of canine diseases, which could ultimately influence the course of treatment or genetic testing to help your dog and other animals in the future.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner or referring veterinarian needs to collect and submit a blood sample.

Dry Eye Syndrome (Keratoconjunctivitis sicca) in West Highland White Terriers

Title: The Genetics of Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca in West Highland White Terriers

Purpose of Study: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or dry eye is a devastating disease that causes ocular pain and potentially blindness. It is seen more frequently in West Highland White Terriers in comparison to many other breeds. We are interested identifying the genetic components of this disease as well as characterizing this disease better with examination and testing of the tear film and ocular surface and in select patients using advanced imaging techniques.

Contact: Dr. Sara Thomasy (smthomasy@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1770)

Participation Requirements:

  • West Highland White Terriers with Dry Eye Syndrome (affected); or,
  • West Highland White Terriers >7 years of age with no ocular abnormalities (control)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Affected patients must receive a diagnosis by a veterinary ophthalmologist for dry eye. Dogs without ocular disease (controls) require no prior initial examination.

Procedures:

  • Routine ophthalmic examination and tear film tests
  • Blood collection for DNA analysis
  • Tears will be collected from the conjunctival sac using a blunt-tip needle attached to a syringe from both eyes. Tear collection will be performed at a separate time from the initial ophthalmic examination and tests.
  • Conjunctival biopsy: Two (2) minutes after regional anesthesia is applied, a small (approximately 5 mm x 2 mm) piece of conjunctiva will be removed from inside the lower eyelid.
  • Select patients only:
    • Advanced imaging: Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (non-contact imaging) and confocal biomicroscopy (imaging in which a gel on the instrument contacts the cornea) will also be performed to carefully image the cornea along with digital slit lamp photography.
    • Sedation for advanced imaging: In order to keep dogs relaxed and comfortable but awake for the advanced imaging, your dog will be given a mild sedative. The sedation chosen for your pet will depend on your dog’s age and health status.

Benefits: There will be no cost to you for your participation in this study and your dog will receive a very thorough eye examination at no charge. If a corneal ulcer occurs at the time of evaluation, the cost of medications, recheck examinations, and procedures (e.g., cotton-tipped applicator or Diamond burr debridement, grid keratotomy) will be performed at no cost to you if they are performed at UC Davis. If a surgical procedure is required, you will receive $200 of compensation towards the procedure if it is performed at UC Davis. If your dog has KCS, you will be compensated for taking part in this study with 2 months worth of immunosuppressive medication (e.g., cyclosporine/tacrolimulus) ointment or drops. The study will also cover the costs of any complications from the sedation, blood sampling or imaging up to $200.

Results from this study will allow us to better predict the onset and progression of this disease. If a gene that causes this disease is found, then we may be able to develop a genetic test to know which dogs have or do not have this disease.

Owner Responsibilities: Although there is no cost to participate in the study, you will need to cover any costs due to complications from sedation, blood sampling, or examination (including corneal ulceration) beyond $200. Additionally, please do not administer any medications to treat your dog’s dry eye for one week prior to the appointment other than the lubricant provided to you. If your dog is participating in the advanced imaging, please do not feed your dog the morning of the appointment (water is fine), as the sedation administered can cause vomiting.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Sebaceous Adenitis in Multiple Breeds

Title: A search for possible genetic associations with sebaceous adenitis, an autoimmune disease that destroys hair follicles and leads to hair loss

Purpose of Study: Sebaceous adenitis is a skin disease that is seen in many breeds but most prevalent in the Standard Poodle, Havanese, Akita, and English Springer Spaniel. We aim to determine whether risk for sebaceous adenitis in Standard Poodles can be associated with a specific genetic makeup.

Contact:

Participation Requirements: Dogs must have a confirmed diagnosis of Sebaceous Adenitis in addition to normal parents or siblings.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure involved a DNA analysis of either 1) a whole blood sample (at least 5 mls) that is not clotted in a sterile tube, or 2) a buccal swab. Please contact Ms. Katy Roberston (krrobertson@ucdavis.edu) for a buccal swab kit. Directions for collection are included on the second page of the study form.

Benefits: There is no direct benefit of this study for you or your dog at this time; however, if a genetic association can be identified, a test could be developed that would predict which dogs carry the trait and may pass it on to their offspring and which dogs may develop the disease in their lifetime.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner only needs to send in the study form in addition to a blood sample or buccal swab per the instructions on the study form.

Ectopic Ureters in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands and Siberian Huskies

Title: Ectopic Ureters in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands and Siberian Huskies

Purpose: The ureters are the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder for the purpose of moving urine out of the body. Sometimes when a puppy is developing during embryogenesis, the ureters do not connect properly into the bladder. When this occurs the ureters are called ectopic. We propose to identify the region of the dog genome associated with ectopic ureters. In order to do this, we will collect blood samples.

Contact: For more information about submitting samples, please contact:

Participation Requirements: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands and Siberian Huskies diagnosed with ectopic ureters

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure required is the collection and submission of a blood sample for DNA extraction. For more information about submitting samples, please contact Miriam Aguilar (miraguilar@ucdavis.edu) for Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands and Siberian Huskies, and Eric Ontiveros (esontiveros@ucdavis.edu) for Golden Retrievers.

Benefits: Although there is no direct medical benefit to your dog, results from this study will benefit science and the discovery of inherited ectopic ureters in the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Newfoundlands and Siberian Huskies. Results from this study may lead to the development of a DNA based test that will allow breeders to make informed breeding decisions.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner or referring veterinarian needs to collect and submit a blood sample and medical records.

Printable Flyer for Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and Newfoundlands(PDF)

Printable Flyer for Siberian Huskies (PDF)

Heart (Cardiology)
NEW! Irregular Heartbeat (Ventricular Arrhythmias): Reducing the Risk during Chemotherapy

Title: Use of diphenhydramine to reduced fewer infusion-related ventricular arrhythmias in dogs treated with doxorubicin

Purpose: The current recommendation for canine lymphoma treatment includes the use of a chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin. Although effective, one of the reported side effects of doxorubicin is the liberation of a molecule called histamine, which can cause ventricular arrhythmias (an irregular rhythm). The concurrent use of anti-histamine agents like diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl) with doxorubicin therapy could possibly reduce these abnormal beats. Therefore, the aim of this study is to see if use of diphenhydramine can reduce the risk of arrhythmias sometimes associated with the administration of chemotherapy.

Contact:

  • Dr. Joshua A. Stern, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Cardiology) at 530-752-4892 or jstern@ucdavis.edu
  • Dr. Jenna H Burton. DVM, MS, DACVIM (Oncology) at 530-752-0629 or jhburton@ucdavis.edu

Participation Requirements: Dogs that have been diagnosed with lymphoma

Initial Evaluation for Participation:  Should you decide to enroll your dog in the clinical trial, your pet would receive a free Echocardiogram screening before receiving Doxorubicin. This would occur at one of the chemotherapy visits prior to the first Doxorubicin treatment.

Procedures: 

  • As part of this study, your animal will receive the same diagnostic tests and care that any other dog presented to the Oncology Service would receive. If your dog participated, an anti-histamine drug (diphenhydramine) will be given at only one out of the two study visits.
  • If your dog participated, an anti-histamine drug (diphenhydramine) will be given at only one out of the two study visits.
  • To evaluate the efficacy of diphenhydramine, your dog will wear a portable and battery-operated device that measures heart's activity (Holter monitor) for 3 hours after the infusion of chemotherapy while your dog is still at the VMTH.

Benefits: If you agree to have your dog participate in this study, the screening echocardiogram and your dog’s Holter monitor will be analyzed by a board-certified veterinary cardiologist and will be free of charge. Adverse events are not expected from the use of diphenhydramine; the study will cover up to $3,000 of your dog’s care if any adverse events occur that are attributable to the investigational portion of the study (use of diphenhydramine or not as a pre-medication for doxorubicin) and your dog requires further care (e.g., hospitalization).

Results from this trial may help us to better guide medical care for your dog and future dogs affected with the same disease. The understanding of your dog’s electrocardiogram may guide medical decisions.

Owner Responsibilities: We expect that participation in this clinical trial will last for two visits of the traditional CHOP chemotherapy protocol.

Costs associated with the recommended chemotherapy protocol and patient care will be your responsibility as they are not a part of this study. Additionally, costs associated with side effects that are attributable to doxorubicin administration (decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and/or low white blood cells counts) will not be covered by the study.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Subaortic or Pulmonic Stenosis: Assessing Two Medications

Title: Echocardiographic effects of butorphanol and atenolol in dogs with subaortic or pulmonic stenosis

Purpose: Pulmonic stenosis (PS) and subaortic stenosis (SAS), the two most common congenital heart defects encountered in dogs, are characterized by a narrowing of the outlet of the right or left side of the heart, respectively. We are studying the effects of two commonly utilized medications – butorphanol, a mild sedative commonly used to help facilitate heart ultrasounds and atenolol, a beta-blocker commonly utilized to help treat PS and SAS – on heart function and assessment of disease severity in dogs with PS and SAS.

Contact: For questions or any research-related injuries or adverse events, please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Lance C. Visser, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Cardiology) at (530) 979-0751 or lcvisser@ucdavis.edu (email is preferred). To schedule an appointment, please call (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs diagnosed with either pulmonic stenosis (PS) or subaortic stenosis (SAS) with a pressure gradient >50 mmHg

Initial Evaluation for Participation:  Dogs must be diagnosed with pulmonic stenosis or (sub)aortic stenosis (pressure gradient >50 mmHg) and be free of any other concurrent cardiac disease to be eligible to participate in this study

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • Complete physical examination with particular attention paid to the cardiovascular system and complete echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) without the use of sedatives to confirm diagnosis
  • Blood collection to determine if your dog is affected with a genetic mutation that may cause a lack of response to the atenolol drug
  • Administration of a single standard dose of a sedative, butorphanol (intravenously) and single standard dose of atenolol (orally)
  • 2 more echocardiograms (within 5-20 minutes after administering butorphanol and then 2-3 hours after atenolol administration)

Benefits: All costs associated with the study will be paid for by the study. This includes diagnostics that would be recommended anyway. All dogs previously diagnosed with SAS or PS that are specifically referred for this study will receive a discounted clinical exam and echocardiogram whether they qualify for the study or not. If adverse events occur directly as a result of the study and your dog requires further care (e.g., hospitalization, monitoring, treatment/medications etc), the study will cover up to $3,000 of your dog’s care.

Results from this trial will allow us to better understand and guide medical care for your dog and future dogs affected with pulmonic or subaortic stenosis.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for bringing your dog to the scheduled appointment and covering any costs not related to the study. The study appointment and procedures are anticipated to take approximately 4-5 hours and will consist of only a single visit. You are not required to be present for the entire duration of the visit.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Abnormal/Rapid Heartbeat (Ventricular Arrhythmia): Assessing Treatment

Title: Acute effects of sotalol on echocardiographic indices of ventricular function in dogs with ventricular tachyarrhythmias

Purpose: Sotalol is considered by most veterinary cardiologists to be one of the most effective and well-tolerated medications for longterm control of potentially life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias (abnormal and rapid heartbeats arising from the pumping chambers). Sotalol may decrease heart function (pumping ability) but it is currently unknown to what extent, if any, it does so. Therefore, the purpose of this clinical trial is to determine the effect of a single standard dose of sotalol on heart function and rhythm in dogs diagnosed with ventricular arrhythmias.

Contact: For questions or any research-related injuries or adverse events, please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Lance C. Visser, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Cardiology) at (616) 633-6231 or lcvisser@ucdavis.eduTo schedule an appointment, please call (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs that have been diagnosed with a ventricular arrhythmia (abnormal and rapid heartbeats originating in the pumping chambers of the heart)

Initial Evaluation for Participation:  Dogs should be evaluated for the presence of ventricular tachyarrhythmias by a veterinarian. Dogs will be considered ineligible for the study if they weigh less than 10 kg (20 lbs), are already taking sotalol, are taking heart medications that affect heart function (e.g., pimobendan or beta-blockers), and if they are affected with significant kidney disease.

Procedures: Please note that no diagnostic test or therapeutic intervention will be withheld or delayed for any reason for the purposes of this study and no “experimental” tests or drugs will be used in this study.

If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • Review of your dog’s medical history, medication history, and any clinical signs (symptoms) your dog may be experiencing with your dog’s attending clinician
  • Completion of a physical examination with particular attention paid to the cardiovascular system
  • Complete echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound) without the use sedatives. Echocardiograms involve your dog being gently restrained while lying on their side and usually last 20-25 minutes.
  • Immediately following this echocardiogram, your dog will be administered a single standard dose (2 mg/kg) of sotalol by mouth after which your dog will be monitored in the cardiology service room or patient care ward by direct observation.
  • 2-4 hours after your dog received the sotalol medication (allows time for the drug to take effect), your dog will have the exact same echocardiogram performed, after which your dog’s participation in the clinical trial will be completed.
  • Blood collection (2 mL) to look for genetic mutations that may cause a lack of response to the drug.

It is important to understand that this study is not a therapeutic trial; it is a study assessing the acute effects of sotalol on heart function and rhythm following a single dose of the sotalol medication. At the conclusion of your dog’s visit to the VMTH the veterinarian in charge of your dog’s care (attending clinician) may or may not recommend that your dog be sent home on the sotalol medication for longterm therapy. It is possible that a more thorough evaluation of your dog’s heart rhythm with a 24-hour Holter (ECG/”EKG”) monitor is warranted to help determine if long-term therapy is necessary. Please understand that not all ventricular arrhythmias require a long-term antiarrhythmic medication.

Benefits: It is considered standard-of-care to have an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) performed in dogs with ventricular arrhythmias. If you agree to have your dog participate in this study, the study will cover $159 of the echocardiogram (you will need to pay the remaining $171). The remainder of the cost of your dog’s visit (to be discussed with the attending clinician) will be your responsibility. If adverse events occur directly as a result of the study and your dog requires further care (e.g., hospitalization, monitoring, treatment(s)/medication(s), etc.), the clinical cardiology service will cover up to $3,000 of your dogs care.

We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include allowing us to better guide medical care for your dog and future dogs affected with arrhythmias.

Owner Responsibilities: You will be responsible for bringing your dog in for your scheduled appointment (which will last approximately ½ of the day or 4 hours), covering the $171 of the first echocardiogram, the appointment fee ($140) and whatever else is discussed between you and the attending clinician regarding the management of your dog’s heart disease.

To schedule an appointment, please contact Pam McInnis at pjmcinnis@ucdavis.edu.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Pulmonary Hypertension: Understanding the Genetics

Title: The Role of Genetics in Canine Pulmonary Hypertension and the Response to Standard Treatment with Sildenafil

Purpose: We are investigating the role of a common canine genetic variant on the condition of pulmonary hypertension. This genetic variant is being evaluated to see if it impacts the severity of disease or the response to the oral medication, sildenafil citrate, the most commonly used drug for the treatment of this condition. Information provided by this study will provide better guidelines for the treatment of dogs with pulmonary hypertension.

Contact: For more information, please contact Dr. Joshua Stern at jstern@ucdavis.edu or 530-752-2475

Participation Requirements: Dogs diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension

Initial Evaluation for Participation: 

  • Diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension confirmed by a complete echocardiographic study that was done by the UC Davis VMTH Cardiology service; and,
  • A recommendation from the veterinarian to give oral sildenafil for treatment of the condition.

Procedures: If you agree to be involved in this study:

  • Initial visit: We will collect a small blood sample and then perform a non-invasive assessment of blood flow, which will involve shaving a small area (the size of a postage stamp). You will be asked to give the sildenafil orally to your dog as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • 25-35 days later: We need you to return to the hospital while your pet is receiving the medication to have the echocardiogram, blood sampling and shaved patch for vascular function assessment performed again.
  • You (the owner) will be asked to fill out a brief health questionnaire for your dog at each visit.

Benefits: There is no charge for you to allow your dog to participate in this clinical trial. The study will cover all costs associated with the diagnostic tests, examination fees and the 1-month supply of sildenafil medication. You will be responsible for covering costs associated with any adverse effects that your dog experiences secondary to the prescribed medication.

We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include better understanding of the disease process and mechanisms for predicting patients response to medical therapy.

Owner Responsibilities: You will be asked to complete two brief questionnaires (one at each visit), administer all prescribed medications for at least 30 days, and return while your pet is receiving this medication for a reevaluation appointment at the end of the 30-day period.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Internal Medicine
NEW! Upper Airway Syndrome in Norwich Terriers: Assessing the Condition in the Breed

Title: Clinical and pathological characterization of upper airway syndrome in Norwich terriers

Purpose: Upper airway obstruction in the Norwich Terrier is a devastating respiratory disorder that can limit exercise ability and even lead to collapse. The purpose of this trial is to evaluate the upper airway in a large group of Norwich Terriers (with and without obvious clinical abnormalities) and to characterize the genetics of this condition.

Contact: This trial is a collaborative effort between UC Davis, Michigan State University (MSU) and several other veterinary schools.  

  • If you are located in California or other west coast locations: Upon completing the online questionnaire, Dr. Johnson will contact you regarding an appointment at UC Davis. If you have questions about the trial, you can reach Dr. Johnson at lrjohnson@ucdavis.edu.
  • Outside of the West Coast: Please visit the MSU Norwich Terrier Upper Airway Syndrome website for more details on how to participate in the study. 

Participation Requirements: Norwich Terriers

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, he/she will receive a:

  • Complete physical examination
  • Blood collection for genetic analysis
  • Overnight fast followed by endoscopy of the upper airway while under anesthesia

Benefits: 

  • Costs of the endoscopy procedure and related anesthesia ($450) will be paid for by the study.
  • Costs of the examination, hospitalization, laboratory tests, and any surgical correction will be discussed prior to study entry.
  • Results from this study will include characterization of the upper airway in all participating dogs and correlation with observed abnormalities. Collection of this information and evaluation of inheritance will be invaluable to the Norwich Terrier breed.

Owner Responsibilities:

  • Completing an online questionnaire (NOTE: Dr. Johnson will then contact you regarding an appointment)
  • Bringing your dog to the scheduled appointment
  • Providing your dog’s pedigree

Printable Flyer (PDF)
Online Questionnaire

Bladder Stones (Struvite): Dissolution via Diet

Title: Use of Canine Struvite Dissolution Diet in the Management of Infection Induced Struvite Stones in Dogs

Purpose: We hope to provide another option to struvite stone dissolution in dogs. The purpose of this trial is to evaluate the efficacy of a therapeutic diet for struvite dissolution in dogs.

Contact: Dr. Jodi Westropp at stonelab@ucdavis.edu or make an appointment by calling (530) 752-1393

Participation Requirements:

  • Dogs with radiodense bladder stone(s) and concurrent UTI with a urease-producing bacteria, such as Staphylococcus spp., Klebsiella spp. or Proteus spp.
  • Exclusion Criteria: Dogs with concurrent disorders (e.g., diabetes mellitus), consuming urinary prevention/dissolution diets or receiving antibiotics for more than 3 days (NOTE: it is OK to begin them if clinically warranted, but call the above-mentioned number when you are aware of these cases) will be considered ineligible.  

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: 

  • Blood and urine collection
  • Abdominal x-rays and ultrasound to document the size of the bladder stones (sedation and/or a cleansing enema may also be required)
  • Completion of a very short daily questionnaire regarding your pet’s clinical signs during the study duration
  • Recheck evaluations will be scheduled at 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks
  • If at 12 weeks stones are 80% to < 100% dissolved, you will be asked to continue feeding the test diet for 1-2 months longer
  • If your dog’s stones do not dissolve in the time period stated, they will be removed via the most appropriate method (e.g., laser lithotripsy, surgery, or voiding urohydropropulsion) following a discussion with you.

Benefits: The study will cover all costs associated with participation and provide food free of charge for the duration of the study.

Results from this trial may help determine another dietary method for non-invasive struvite dissolution in dogs.

Owner Responsibilities: We expect that participation in this clinical trial will last approximately 8-12 weeks unless otherwise discussed. If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for coming to all scheduled appointments, feeding the test diet exclusively (with only a few prescribed dog treats provided if you desire), and completing the questionnaire as described previously.

Owner - Printable Flyer (PDF)
Referring Veterinarian - Printable Flyer (PDF)

Fungal Infections (Aspergillus spp) in German Shepherds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and Hungarian Vizslas

Title: Genetic analysis of the susceptibility to systemic Aspergillus infections in dogs

Purpose: Systemic fungal infections such as aspergillosis are rare in animals with a competent immune system; however, certain dog breeds (namely the German shepherd, Rhodesian ridgeback and Hungarian vizsla) are reported to have a higher risk of this uncommon disease. A genetic etiology is suspected to cause this over-representation. We propose to use a technique called genome-wide association analysis to evaluate the differences in the genetic material of affected dogs (dogs infected with Aspergillus spp.).

Contact: Dr. Jonathan Dear, DVM, DACVIM at jddear@ucdavis.edu

Participation Requirements:

  • German Shepherds with systemic Aspergillus spp. infections
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks with systemic Aspergillus spp. infections
  • Hungarian Vizslas with systemic Aspergillus spp. infections

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: The only procedure required is the collection and submission of a blood sample for DNA extraction. For more information about submitting samples, please contact Dr. Jonathan Dear (details above).

Benefits: Results from this study will hopefully lead to the development of DNA tests that would identify dogs at risk for developing systemic aspergillosis. These tests would help simplify the diagnosis of the disease by identifying at risk individuals and allow breeders to avoid producing affected dogs. Furthermore, if the genetic traits responsible for this disease in dogs are shared with human patients, precision medicine can be used to help develop targeted therapies to treat this life-threatening disease.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner or referring veterinarian needs to collect and submit a blood sample and medical records.

Printable Flyers

  • German Shepherds (PDF)
  • Vizslas (PDF)
Cushing's Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism): Improving Diagnostic Values

Title: Evaluation of post-dexamethasone cortisol value used to diagnose hyperadrenocorticism in dogs

Purpose of Study: The cut off values previously used to diagnose hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing’s disease, were first determined over 30 years ago. Since then, there have been significant advancements in laboratory equipment and techniques as well as the clinician’s ability to identify this disease as a differential diagnosis. The goal of this study is to re-evaluate the cut off values used to diagnose hyperadrenocorticism in dogs.

Contact: Dr. Ann Della Maggiore (adellamaggiore@ucdavis.edu) or Dr. Laura Lim or (lkylim@ucdavis.edu)

Participation Requirements: Adult dogs suspected to have hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease; either pituitary or adrenal dependent) prior to receiving any medical therapy.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: An appointment with the VMTH Internal Medicine Service will be necessary to confirm eligibility for study, please note to reception staff that you are interested in this study.

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • Day 1: We will collect a blood and urine sample for analysis, assess blood pressure, and need you to collect two urine samples from your pet at home prior to arrival and bring these with you. These samples should be collected first thing in the morning for two consecutive days prior to arrival, and kept refrigerated. You will be required to complete the study questionnaire. This can be performed with initial appointment or an initial assessment and consultation can be performed with you to schedule an additional visit for enrollment and sample collection.
  • Day 2: We will perform an ACTH stimulation test and an abdominal ultrasound.
  • Day 3: We will perform an 8-hour low-dose dexamethasone suppression test which requires a 8-12 hour fast.
  • We may contact you or your regular veterinarian in the future by telephone or email to follow-up on your dog and request that you schedule an appointment for recheck.

Benefits: Dogs suspected to having hyperadrenocorticism will assist in evaluation of cut off values used to make a diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism. The study will cover the cost of the abdominal ultrasound, one of the urine cortisol creatinine ratios, endogenous ACTH level, ACTH stimulation test, low dose dexamethasone suppression test, and cost associated with hospitalization during the day. 

Owner Responsibilities: We expect that participation in this clinical trial will last for a total of 3 (non consecutive) days. Testing must be performed before any treatment is initiated. You will be responsible for keeping all scheduled appointments and covering the cost of the treatment of hyperadrenocorticism, initial examination, initial laboratory evaluation (CBC, chemistry panel, urinalysis and urine culture), urine cortisol creatinine ratio, blood pressure, along with any additional testing recommended by the clinician managing the case. These tests would be standard in evaluation of any dog suspected to have hyperadrenocorticism.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections: Assessing a Novel Non-Antibiotic Treatment

Title: Evaluation of the Live Biotherapeutic Product, Asymptomatic Bacteria, E. coli 2-12, In Dogs with Recurrent UTI

Purpose of Study: Recurrent (more than 3 per year) urinary tract infections (UTI) are problematic for dogs and continual administration of antimicrobial therapy could lead to bacteria becoming resistant. Therefore, the purpose of this trial is to investigate a novel non-antibiotic treatment for recurrent UTIs in dogs.

Contact: Dr. Jodi Westropp via email (jlwestropp@ucdavis.edu or jlwestropp@gmail.com) or phone (laboratory 530-752-3228; VMTH 530-752-1393)

Participation Requirements: Dogs that have had more than three (3) UTIs in a single year. These UTIs must also be associated with clinical signs that antibiotics have alleviated in the past.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: The study investigators will contact your veterinarian with your permission to determine eligibility.

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • First visit:
    • We will perform a complete physical examination and collect baseline blood and urine and urine culture for analysis.
    • An abdominal ultrasound will also be done to look for underlying causes for why your dog is getting recurrent UTI. If no underlying causes can be documented, your dog will be sedated so we can insert a urinary catheter into your dog’s urethra. The asymptomatic strain of bacteria will be infused into the bladder. After the procedure, your dog will recover at the VMTH and then be discharged to you that same day. This procedure will hopefully be the same day as the initial evaluation.
  • Follow-up:
    • You will need to bring your dog back to the VMTH in 1, 7 and 14 days after the instillation of the ASB strain. Furthermore, a final evaluation 2 months later is also required. Urine will be collected at each visit.
    • During the first two weeks, you will need to complete a daily questionnaire regarding your pet’s clinical signs. This questionnaire takes approximately 30-60s to complete.

Benefits: The study will cover all costs associated with the study; however, if you decide to remove your dog from the study, all further costs related to the presenting problem (recurrent UTI), will be your responsibility to cover. If any serious complications occur due to participation in the study, treatment for those complications will be covered by the study.

We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include 1) elimination the clinical signs and discomfort associated with infection; 2) a decrease the need for antimicrobial drug therapy 3) reduction the number of dogs with recurrent infections; and, improvement outcomes for other dogs and possibly human beings that suffer from recurrent UTI.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for keeping the scheduled visits that are assigned to you and completing the questionnaire regarding your pet’s urinary tract health. We expect that participation in this clinical trial will require up to 4 visits to the VMTH, but only the first visit will be require that your dog stay at the VMTH for at least 4 hours for evaluation. You will be responsible for contacting us immediately should you have any concerns about your dog or if your dog has any serious complications.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Evaluating a Stem Cell Therapy

Title: Immunomodulation by Mesenchymal Stem Cells In Canine Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Purpose of Study: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in dogs often involves lifelong steroid therapy, which holds the risk for a variety of potentially serious complications. Because of the ability to regulate immune responses and facilitate tissue regrowth or repair, we believe that fat-derived, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may help to decrease the abnormal immune response and the accompanying inflammation. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of a new stem cell therapy for canine IBD and better understand how stem cells work to limit inflammation and repair gut tissue.

Contact: Dr. Amir Kol (akol@ucdavis.edu)

Participation Requirements: Dogs suspected of having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), specifically adult dogs with chronic, idiopathic, diarrhea (>3 weeks) that have failed dietary management (4-6 weeks) and empiric antimicrobial therapy (minimum 2 week course of metronidazole and/or Tylosin therapy) for their disease.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Prior to enrollment, dogs will have received the full diagnostic work-up that includes a fecal screen for endoparasites, a CBC, serum biochemistry profile, urinalysis, measurement of serum B12 and folate concentrations, and abdominal ultrasound. Additional screening tests will be performed at the discretion of the attending gastroenterologist.

  • Exclusion criteria - Dogs previously (< 2 months) or currently treated with corticosteroids and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) will be excluded from the study.

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • Visit 1: On the day of study enrollment, your dog will have belly fat and full thickness gut biopsies collected via a minimally invasive surgery performed under general anesthesia. Prior to anesthesia, we will collect approximately 20ml of blood. During the procedure, we will collect a golf ball-sized amount (10-20 grams) of abdominal fat and the draining lymph node.
  • Visit 2: Two to three weeks after fat harvest, your dog will either receive the placebo or a dose of 25 million MSCs given by intravenous infusion. Dogs receiving the placebo will also receive the medical standard-of-care (steroid therapy) at the same time points as treatment group dogs.
  • Visit 3: Two weeks after the first treatment, your dog will receive a second injection of either stem cell treatment or placebo according to their group assignment. At this time, we will clinically examine your dog and collect about 20ml of blood.
  • Visit 4: Two weeks after the second treatment, we will clinically examine your dog and collect about 20ml of blood. Afterwards, your dog will be anesthetized and undergo a minimally invasive endoscopic examination of its gut with a flexible endoscope. Partial thickness gut biopsies and ultrasound guided abdominal lymph node aspirates will be collected at this time.
  • Follow-up: You will then be asked to return for clinical follow-up and blood sampling 2 more times within a 4-week interval.

Benefits: We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include the potential of your dog to achieve a state of remission from IBD without the use of steroid therapy. Moreover, this study may help us to further target specific use of stem cells for other dogs or even humans that suffer from inflammatory bowel disease.

Owner Responsibilities: You are only responsible for covering the cost of an endoscopic examination had your dog not been enrolled in the study (i.e., the standard-of-diagnosis that your dog would have received at the time of the first visit). The study will cover everything else, including the examination fees, cost of biopsy processing and interpretation, the difference between the costs of the laparoscopic and endoscopic (standard-of-diagnosis) procedures performed at the first visit, and procedures involved with fat harvest and stem cell expansion, the second endoscopic procedure, and ultrasound guided abdominal lymph node aspirate.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

ON HOLD! Ectopic ureters: Evaluating Laser Ablation as a Treatment Option

Title: Evaluation of the Use of Cystoscopic-Guided Laser Ablation in the Treatment of Canine Ureteral Ectopia

Purpose of Study: To evaluate urethral pressure profiles (UPPs) in patients undergoing laser ablation of their ectopic ureters. The goal is to determine if pre-treatment UPP values can help to predict continence rates after laser ablation.

Large Bowel Disease: Evaluating a New Diagnostic Tool

Title: Evaluation of CT as a diagnostic tool for large bowel disease in dogs

Purpose of Study: We are evaluating the benefits of a novel CT protocol for large bowel disease. Surgical planning for conditions of the large bowel can be difficult as there are many ways to surgically approach lesions of the large bowel. Appropriate surgical planning plays a large role in the success of the procedure. While existing imaging methods provide some information about the lesion, there are sometimes major limitations to the information provided. Three-dimensional imaging, such as CT, is likely to improve our understanding of the disease and, our surgical planning in cases of mass lesions.

Contact: If you are interested in participating in this clinical trial, please schedule an appointment with the UCD VMTH Internal Medicine Service at 530-752-1393. For specific procedure questions, have your veterinarian contact Dr. Michele Steffey at 530-752-1393 and following the prompts for Surgery.

Participation Requirements:

  • Dogs experiencing clinical signs of large bowel disease (colon or rectum)
  • As the owner, you have elected to have a colonoscopy and biopsies performed under general anesthesia for diagnosis of the underlying disease

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the UCDavis VMTH Internal Medicine Service

Procedures: If you agree to participate, your dog will be anesthetized according to standard of care recommended by the Anesthesia Service. Prior to your dog’s scheduled colonoscopy, your dog will go to CT for the imaging scan using a new technique. He/she will then proceed for his/her colonoscopy/biopsy procedure as planned.

Benefits: There is no charge for you to allow your dog to participate in this clinical trial as all costs associated with the study, including the CT scan and additional anesthesia time needed to perform the CT imaging will be paid by the sponsor/department. You will additionally receive an additional $150 subsidy on your bill toward the cost of the colonoscopy procedure.

We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include improved methods of diagnosis of large bowel disease or improved surgical planning for focal large bowel problems.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for bringing your dog to the U.C. Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) for his/her scheduled colonoscopy procedure and for covering the standard costs of the colonoscopy/biopsy/regular medical care as part of the diagnosis of your dog’s disease.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Variety of Tumors: Assessing Minimally Invasive Tumor Ablation

Title: Thermal ablation of cancer in dogs and cats

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the outcome of treating veterinary patients with minimally invasive tumor ablation technologies including cryoablation and microwave ablation. These methods are growing in the treatment of a variety of cancers in the human medical field, but information in veterinary patients is currently very limited. To date we have completed a study on cryoablation in nasal tumor patients, and this technique has been very successful in reducing tumor volume in nasal tumor patients – although there are no more spots in the formal nasal tumor study, because of this success, we continue to offer this technique as a clinical service to nasal cancer patients, and are expanding the types of cancer that we are evaluating.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey. The coordinators will likely advise you to send your pet's medical records and imaging results for Dr. Steffey's review. If, based on this information, your pet is deemed an appropriate candidate, an appointment will be scheduled.

Participation Requirements: In order to participate in this study, your pet must have **solitary** malignant soft tissue or bony mass **that is deemed amenable to ablation**. Tumor types that MAY be amenable to this treatment include lung tumors, kidney tumors, adrenal tumors, and bone tumors in certain locations. however determination of eligibility is complex and relates to the size of the lesion as well as proximity to/involvement of other important nearby structures. Tumors that are superficial (involving or near to the skin) or that involve the gastrointestinal tract are not amenable to this treatment.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, under general anesthesia, ablation probes will be placed into your pet’s mass under ultrasound guidance and the tumor will be ablated.

Benefits: This treatment method may only be palliative, but it is our hope that in appropriately selected patients, we may improve quality of life as well as longevity.

Owner Responsibilities: The study will cover the cost of the ablation probes and generator. Costs of pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of the disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility.

Variety of Tumors and Diseases: Improving Operative Detection of Tumors

Title: Fluorescent imaging of cancer

Purpose of Study: Near-infrared fluorescent imaging utilizes special wavelengths of light to identify important structures, and is used in surgery to improve surgical decision making. The fluorescent light is generated by a special contrast agent (a “fluorophore”) that is injected into the patient. When a special light source is used to illuminate the surgical site, any tissue in which this fluorophore is located will glow, aiding the surgeon in identifying the location or extent of disease. Based on early experiments in rodents and human clinical trials, this very sensitive tool has the potential to improve surgical decision-making and improve overall treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this imaging modality in veterinary patients presenting with naturally occurring neuroendocrine tumors disease processes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with the following conditions are most likely to benefit from this study: hyperparathyroidism, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, adrenal cancer, thymoma, mammary (breast) cancer, lung cancer, anal sac gland cancer, oral cancer, mast cell tumor. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, the best fluorophore for your pet’s tumor will be administered or intravenously, at a dose and timing considered to be optimal by your attending veterinarian.

Benefits: It is hoped, but is not known if there will be a specific benefit to your individual pet. Fluorescent imaging may or may not improve operative localization and dissection of your pet’s tumor.

Owner Responsibilities: Costs of standard pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of your pet’s disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility. The cost of the fluorophore and special imaging is covered by the study. There are no risks associated with the imaging itself, as it only involves light; there is no radiation exposure to the patient. The fluorophores used in this study are FDA-approved for use in humans and have been used without complication in our hospital for the past 18 months. The primary risk of this procedure is associated with injection of these drugs is an allergic reaction, which is very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications.

Mouth (Dentistry and Oral Surgery)
Discolored Teeth: Evaluating Tooth Vitality

Title: Thermal assessment of pulp vitality of discolored canine teeth in dogs

Purpose of Study: To date, we relied on clinical assessment and dental radiographs of discolored teeth to decide whether or not those teeth require treatment. Both modalities have limitations. With the use of a newly developed diagnostic tool called the TOTEM device, we will hopefully be able to assess tooth vitality much more accurately via tooth temperature. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to evaluate the clinical application of the TOTEM device to assess tooth vitality.

Contact: Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service (530) 752-2470

Participation Requirements: Dogs with discolored canine teeth.

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • General anesthesia, clinical assessment and intraoral radiographs
  • Thermal assessment of the pulp vitality of the discolored canine tooth, which will take approximately 10 minutes
  • Appropriate, standard treatment (e.g., monitoring, extraction or root canal treatment)

Benefits: There is no charge for you to allow your dog to participate in this clinical trial as you will not be charged for the thermal measurement. However, you will need to pay the invoice that will be issued to you by the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service for the regular diagnostics and the treatment of your dog.

At this point in the clinical trial we cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals. However, we are confident that this diagnostic tool will help to increase the accuracy of future treatment planning in regards to discolored teeth, no matter the species. Ultimately, our aim is to establish a new tool for diagnosis and treatment planning in regards to discolored teeth in dogs, but also in other animals.

Owner Responsibilities: Although the study will cover the costs for the thermal assessment of the discolored tooth, you will be responsible for bringing your dog to the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service and paying for all costs associated with standard dental care.

Reproduction (Theriogenology)

Subfertility: Examining Semen Parameters in the Labrador Retriever

Title: Advanced measures of spermatozoal parameters to predict fertility of subfertile dogs

Purpose: Sperm motility and number are the only parameters we currently have to measure sperm. These parameters do not have a strong correlation to subfertility in many males. We have the ability to measure more detailed aspects of sperm, including cell membrane and DNA integrity, as well as sperm cell metabolism. Some of these parameters may correlate with infertility. The objective of this study is to identify fertility parameters in canine semen which can be evaluated using fluorescent markers.

Contact:

Participation Requirements: Labrador Retrievers over 2 years old that have bred more than one bitch without resulting in pregnancy or yielding litters of less than 3 puppies

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Completion of our online survey to notify us of your desire to have your dog included in this study

Procedures: After completing the above-mentioned online survey, we will determine if your dog is eligible for the study. If he/she is found to be eligible for this study, you or your veterinarian will need to collect semen from your dog. The semen will need to be shipped to UC Davis per the provided instructions.

Benefits: The study will cover costs associated with semen shipping and analysis performed by UC Davis. You will also receive a complete report of your dog’s semen test results.

We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include identification of specific sperm parameters associated with infertility or subfertility in male dogs. Identification of these parameters may help to focus further research and may lead to measures that can prevent or cure some causes of subfertility in male dogs.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for signing and returning our consent form, making an appointment with your veterinarian for semen collection, transporting your dog to the veterinarian, and paying for any veterinary-related fees through your veterinarian.

Printable Flyer (PDF)</

Skin (Dermatology)
Pemphigus Foliaceus: Finding a New Treatment

Title: A Pilot Study of the Efficacy of a Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (BTKi) in the Treatment of Dogs with Pemphigus Foliaceus (PF)

Purpose of Study: Although it is a rare skin disease, pemphigus foliaceus (PF) is the most common form of pemphigus and probably the most common cutaneous autoimmune disease in the dog. The goal of this study is to assess the efficacy of a Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase inhibitor (BTKi) as a therapy for canine pemphigus foliaceus (as pills which can also be crushed into powder in food if necessary).

Contact: Call the Dermatology Office at (530) 754-5908 or email Dr. Stephen White (sdwhite@ucdavis.edu) or Dr. Catherine Outerbridge (caouterbridge@ucdavis.edu)

Participation Requirements: Dogs weighing over 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) that are suspected of having or have been previously diagnosed with Pemphigus Foliaceus

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: We will collect a punch skin biopsy (using a local anesthetic and under sedation if needed) or review the histopathology report of a previously collected biopsy to confirm PF diagnosis. If the biopsy test results have confirmed the diagnosis of PF and you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • Day 1: We will perform a physical examination, collect a blood and urine sample to confirm no abnormalities, and take photographs of the lesions. This visit will require a serial blood draw to examine the drug levels in the body over a 24-hour period after the administration of one dose of the BTKi, which means that you will need to leave your dog at the VMTH for up to two nights.
  • Weeks 2, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20: We will perform a physical examination, collect a blood and/or urine sample, and take photographs of the lesions. No overnight stay required.

Benefits: If the initial skin biopsy confirms the diagnosis of pemphigus foliaceus, the sponsor will pay for the cost of the skin biopsy and the office visit (as a credit to your account), and cover all other costs associated with this study as well as any expenses incurred as a result of adverse reactions to the experimental drug (up to $4800). Additionally, upon completion, you will be compensated $200 for taking part in this study.

We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include control of your dog’s PF while on the drug. Additionally, we hope to get a general understanding of the benefit of this drug and others closely related to it in dogs with PF and similar diseases.

Owner Responsibilities: We expect that participation in this clinical trial will last for 20 weeks. You will need to bring your dog in to scheduled appointments every week for the first month (except Week 3) and then every month after that for the next four (4) months. Additionally, you will need to give your dog the prescribed drug as instructed by the Dermatology Service at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

If the diagnosis is not confirmed, you will be responsible for the cost of the skin biopsy and the office visit. For more information about possible costs, please contact the investigator.

Printable Flyer (PDF)
Printable Flyer for Bearded Collies (PDF)

Soft Tissue Surgery
NEW! Colorectal Masses: New Minimally-Invasive Approaches to Surgical Planning

Title: Assessment of colorectal masses in dogs

Purpose of Study: Although the prevalence of rectal cancer in dogs is low, it still proves a significant problem for diagnosis and treatment when it occurs. Definitive diagnosis can be challenging at times because current imaging tools have their limitations. The current gold standard imaging method for evaluation of rectal masses by colonoscopy. The purpose of this portion of the study is to evaluate two different novel minimally invasive approaches to pre-operative imaging and surgical planning.

In addition to assessing new diagnostic imaging techniques, the other portion of the study intends to assess two protocols for bowel preparation prior to imaging. Traditional bowel preparation for a colonoscopy procedure (the current usual method of surgical planning for masses of the colon/rectum) requires a full cathartic in-hospital bowel preparation, which can be expensive and requires hospitalization. Both of the new bowel cleansing protocols evaluated in this study will allow for sufficient pre-operative planning to facilitate surgical removal, but will be less expensive, and we hope will be less unpleasant for the patient than standard fully cathartic bowel preparation protocols. Additionally, the less intensive bowel cleanses required for study participation would mean that diagnostic evaluation, imaging and surgery could be performed under the same anesthetic episode, thus decreasing hospitalization time for the patient, and costs to the owner.

Contact: Contact Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell (Small Animal Surgery) via email (jwmitchell@ucdavis.edu) or call (530) 752-1393 to make an appointment.

Participation Requirements: Dogs diagnosed with rectal mass(es) with owners who have elected to proceed with further diagnostic imaging and surgical removal of these masses

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Prospective candidates will require an appointment with and evaluation by the UC Davis VMTH Soft Tissue Surgery, Internal Medicine, Oncology, or Community Practice Services to evaluate their eligibility to participate.

Procedures: If you agree to let your dog participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • After an in-person appointment and consultation with the Soft Tissue Surgery Service to ensure that your dog is a safe candidate to participate in this study, an at-home bowel cleansing protocol will be initiated 2 days prior to the scheduled surgical procedure in which removal of your dog’s rectal mass is planned. The bowel cleansing protocol will involve a special diet for 2 days and may include a special radiographic contrast agent and potentially an orally administered cathartic laxative, depending on which group of the study your dog is enrolled. The allocation of patients to the different bowel preparation study groups is randomized.
  • On the day of the diagnostic imaging, your dog will be anesthetized and then undergo a CT scan one of the imaging procedures. Your dog will then proceed to the operating room where a rigid endoscope will be used to evaluate the mass just prior to surgical removal.
  • If surgery is necessary, your dog will undergo the surgery as determined by the attending Soft Tissue Surgery clinician with your permission.

Benefits: All costs associated with the study, including the bowel preparation protocol medications, CT scan, and rigid endoscopic exam will be paid by the sponsor/department.

Results from this study may lead to improved methods of diagnosis of large bowel disease and/or improved surgical planning for focal large bowel problems.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for:

  • Bringing your dog to any scheduled appointments
  • Covering the standard costs of pre-operative bloodwork, additional diagnostic imaging (chest x-rays, abdominal ultrasound, etc), anesthesia, surgery, and hospitalization for your dog’s disease, as explained by your attending clinician

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Mast Cell Tumors: Assessing Lymph Node Mapping

Title: Sentinel lymph node mapping in dogs with mast cell tumors

Purpose of Study: Mast cell tumors are a very common skin tumor in dogs, and a common mechanism of spread in the body (metastasis) is to nearby lymph nodes. If tumor spread to lymph nodes is identified (as part of staging), this is important information that often influences treatment recommendations. Currently, standard protocols for looking for metastasis in lymph nodes most commonly include aspiration cytology. Aspiration cytology is minimally invasive, but may miss a diagnosis of lymph node metastasis in a concerning number of patients – early literature suggests metastatic disease may be missed by lymph node aspiration in up to 40% of patients! The concern is that not only does aspiration cytology only sample a very small amount of a given lymph node, but that it is difficult to ensure that we have correctly predicted the optimal lymph node to sample for any given mast cell tumor. Lymph node mapping, a technique to visualize the lymphatic drainage of tumors by which tumor cells might spread, is increasingly used to improve cancer staging and treatment protocols in the treatment of cancer in humans. Efforts are made to identify the “sentinel lymph node,” or primary lymph node that is most likely to demonstrate evidence of metastatic disease if it is present. This lymph node can then be surgically removed with the primary tumor, in order to be evaluated microscopically for spread of cancer. However the common method of sentinel lymph node mapping performed in people is not widely available to veterinarians. This trial is being performed to hopefully identify an alternative method of sentinel lymph node mapping that can be more widely accessible to a greater number of veterinary practitioners. By doing so, we hope that this will improve the accuracy of cancer diagnoses and treatment recommendations we make for dogs with mast cell tumors and other cancers, improving their quality of life and lifespan.

Contact:

Participation Requirements: Dogs must have been diagnosed with a peripheral mast cell tumor, have been evaluated by or received a consult from a clinician the Soft Tissue Surgery service to determine if LN mapping is viable for your individual dog, and you have elected surgical excision of this tumor both for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the U.C. Davis V.M.T.H. Oncology or Soft Tissue Surgery services. Specific preoperative diagnostic tests to ensure that your pet is safe for surgical removal of the mast cell tumor will be recommended by the clinician that you consult with on these services.

Procedures: If you choose to enroll your dog, lymph node mapping procedures will be performed the day before and the day of surgery. These will be discussed in more detail at the time of your appointment.

Benefits: The study will cover costs associated with the sentinel lymph node mapping imaging. There is no charge to you for these procedures.

Possible benefits of participating in this study for your dog include more sensitive identification of metastasis (spread of cancer) if it is present. If early metastasis is more sensitively identified, we can then make more accurate treatment recommendations for your pet. It is our hope that in addition to benefiting your dog, we will benefit future patients by advancing the standard of care offered when treating this type of cancer, improving care provided to larger numbers of veterinary cancer patients.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for bringing your dog to the U.C. Davis V.M.T.H. for 1) preoperative evaluation of and 2) surgical removal of the mast cell tumor, and covering the standard costs associated with medical workup for and surgical removal of the mast cell tumor.

If you are calling to schedule an appointment and already know that you are interested in having your dog participate in this study, please inform the coordinators so that they can make sure to schedule appropriately for the mapping procedures.

Urinary Incontinence: Finding a Treatment

Title: Use of Radiofrequency Urethral Thermoplasty for the Treatment of Urinary Incontinence

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this project is to assess a novel treatment option for urinary incontinence in dogs.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or call (530) 752-1393 to make an appointment.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with urinary incontinence

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or call (530) 752-1393 to make an appointment.

Procedures: Dogs with a diagnosis of urinary incontinence and have been evaluated by a study investigator at UC Davis can be considered. Your dog will undergo testing related to urinary incontinence generally consisting of bloodwork, abdominal ultrasound and possibly cystourethroscopy (camera evaluation of the urethra and urinary bladder). Once your dog is deemed a candidate, and you have consented to have your dog enrolled, your dog will have the novel procedure performed.

Benefits: Enrolling a dog in this study results in a significant financial incentive towards diagnostics that would be recommended for your dog whether or not he/she is enrolled in the study. Additionally, this study will pay for the novel treatment.

Owner Responsibilities:

  • Bring your dog to the VMTH four separate times over approximately 6-weeks
  • Complete the study questionnaires
ON HOLD! Bloat (Gastric Dilation and Volvulus): Investigating a Preventative Surgical Technique

Title: Investigating Minimally Invasive Techniques for the Performance of Gastropexy

Purpose of Study: Commonly referred to as "bloat", gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening syndrome that occurs when a dog’s stomach becomes distended with air and/or food and rotates. The rotation of the stomach restricts outflow of stomach contents and more importantly causes a reduction in the blood flow to the stomach wall causing death of the tissues. This disease is considered universally fatal if left untreated. Additionally, if the stomach wall is devitalized from lack of blood flow, significant post-operative care may be necessary making this surgery cost prohibitive for many owners and resulting in humane euthanasia. Performing a gastropexy has been shown to virtually eliminate the possibility of a subsequent torsion.

Hiatal Hernia / Brachycephalic Obstructor Syndrome: Assessing a Surgical Treatment

Title: Effect of Surgical Treatment of Brachycephalic Obstructor Syndrome on the Lower Esophageal Area of Brachycephalic Dogs with Evidence of Hiatal Herniation and Gastroesophageal Reflux

Purpose of Study: We believe that brachycephalic dogs have a tendency to develop hiatal herniation (HH) with greater frequency than non-brachycephalic dogs. Dogs with relative obstruction of the upper airways may generate a decreased pressure in their chest during inspiration (breathing in) that results in the upper part of the stomach being sucked into the chest (HH). This can lead to clinical signs including regurgitation, esophageal stricture formation and aspiration pneumonia if severe. We hypothesize that, if the upper airway obstruction in these dogs can be alleviated, improvement in their respiratory compromise might be seen as well as a reduction in the severity of their HH.

Contact:

  • Please call (530) 752-1393 to make an appointment with Soft Tissue Surgery or Internal Medicine for Dr. Phil Mayhew's study
  • Email Dr. Phil Mayhew directly at philmayhew@gmail.com

Participation Requirements:

  • Brachycephalic breed (dogs with broad short skulls)
  • No evidence of other upper airway obstructive pathology (especially tracheal collapse and hypoplastic trachea)
  • No previous brachycephalic surgery
  • Evidence of hiatal herniation on fluoroscopic imaging (performed pre-operatively)

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Initial evaluation and discussion for entry into the study can be arranged by making an appointment with our Internal Medicine or Soft Tissue Surgery or by contacting Dr. Phil Mayhew directly (contact information below).

Procedures: Both visits outlined below require hospitalization for 2-4 days at the VMTH.

  • First visit:
    • Day 1: You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your dog’s clinical signs. We will give your dog a local anesthetic, place a small catheter down your dogs nose, and give your dog a small amount of water to swallow, so we can trace the pressure profile of your dog’s esophagus (known as high-resolution manometry or HRM study). We will then perform a barium esophagram, which involves imaging of your dog using a fluoroscope (moving x-ray machine) after he/she swallows water and food boluses. Finally, we will place a small pH-monitoring probe in you dog’s nose that will remain in place for no longer than 24-hours for continuous monitoring of the esophageal pH and will be removed prior to surgery the following day.
    • Day 2: Your dog will be prepared for surgery and given general anesthesia. Prior to surgery, we will take measurements of your dog’s lower esophageal area (impedance planimetry or Endoflip), which involves inflation of a very low-pressure balloon within the lower esophagus, and perform an upper gastrointestinal endoscopic study immediately before upper airway surgery.
  • 30 – 60 days post-surgery visit: You will need to bring your dog in for another visit between 30 and 60 days after surgery. During this visit, we need to repeat the questionnaire and the procedures outlined above to gauge the response to surgery.

Benefits: The trial will pay for all of the diagnostic tests associated with the study, including costs associated with the HRM and esophagram studies, Endoflip measurements, pH impedance studies, endosocopic studies, biopsy procedures, pathology fees as well as the hospitalization and anesthesia fees associated with the second visit to the hospital at 30-60 days post-operatively. The owner will have to cover the surgical procedure, hospitalization and any possible complications associated with the surgical procedure and recovery during the first visit.

We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include a better understanding of your dogs presence or absence of hiatal herniation which may aid in longer-term management of this component of his or her clinical signs. Results from this study may influence treatment of other dogs with similar conditions going forward.

Owner Responsibilities: If you allow your dog to participate in this study, you will be responsible for bringing the dog to the VMTH for the study-related visits for the duration of the time stipulated and for providing the clinical information stipulated.

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Imaging: Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping

Title: Identification of sentinel lymph nodes with intraoperative fluorescence

Purpose of Study: Near-infrared fluorescent imaging utilizes special wavelengths of light to identify important structures, and is used in surgery to improve surgical decision making. The fluorescent light is generated by a special contrast agent (a “fluorophore”) that is injected into the patient. When a special light source is used to illuminate the surgical site, any tissue in which this fluorophore is located will glow, aiding the surgeon in identifying the location or extent of disease. Based on early experiments in rodents and human clinical trials, this very sensitive tool has the potential to improve surgical decision-making and improve overall treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this imaging modality in veterinary patients presenting with natural disease processes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements: Dogs scheduled for surgery to treat their primary tumor, and for whom clients are interested in improving their pet’s staging information by lymph node biopsy. Dogs most likely to benefit from this technique include those with primary lung tumors, mast cell tumors, oral cancers, and carcinomas in general, as these are types of tumors that tend to exhibit spread by the lymphatic system. Tumors may be external (skin associated) or internal. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by Dr. Michele Steffey on the Soft Tissue Surgery Service.

Procedures: The best fluorophore for your pet’s tumor will be administered either subcutaneously or intravenously, at a dose and timing considered to be optimal by your attending veterinarian.

Benefits: Preliminary, not yet published results have demonstrated that the fluorescent imaging is very helpful in locating the important lymph nodes at surgery, which often reduces the amount of dissection needed, and may reduce the amount of time under anesthesia. The purpose of this study is to aid in identifying lymph nodes for improved staging (lymph node biopsy) at the time your pet’s primary tumor is removed. It is hoped, but is not known, if there will be a specific benefit to your individual pet. Depending upon your pet’s specific tumor type and the biopsy results, use of this technique and lymph node biopsy may or may not impact the postoperative treatment recommendations provided to your dog.

Owner Responsibilities: The cost of the fluorophore and special imaging is covered by the study. There are no risks associated with the imaging itself, as it only involves light; there is no radiation exposure to the patient. The fluorophores used in this study are FDA-approved for use in humans and have been used without complication in our hospital for the past 18 months. The primary risk of this procedure is associated with injection of these drugs is an allergic reaction, which is very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications.

Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunts: Assessing a New Treatment Technique

Title: Assessment of Outcome in Dogs Undergoing Percutaneous Transvenous Coil Embolization to Treat Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunts

Purpose of Study: The purposes of this project are to assess the response to treatment of a relatively new treatment option (coil embolization) for intrahepatic portosystemic shunts that has shown tremendous potential.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or call (530) 752-1393 to make an appointment.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with intrahepatic portosystemic shunts

Initial Evaluation for Participation, Procedures, Benefits and Owner Responsibilities: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or call (530) 752-1393 to make an appointment.

Procedures: Dogs with a diagnosis of intrahepatic portosystemic shunts (IHPSS) will be enrolled in the study. The dog will undergo percutanous transvenous coil embolization (PTCE) to treat his/her IHPSS.

Large Bowel Disease: Evaluating New Diagnostic Tool

Title: Evaluation of CT pneumocolonography as a diagnostic tool for large bowel disease in dogs

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of imaging findings on surgical decision-making in dogs with colonic and rectal disease of any kind (cancer or non-cancer). This part of the body can be a very difficult region examine with current imaging methods, which also do not provide optimal spatial information important if a surgical procedure is needed. In early studies, we have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the CT pneumocolonography procedure in normal dogs, but it is important that we learn to accurately interpret the imaging findings for a wide variety of disease processes in clinical patients so that our CT diagnoses are accurate. Our goal is to compare the imaging findings obtained with CT pneumocolonography with the current standard of care of colonoscopy and colonoscopic biopsies.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 to schedule an appointment with the Internal Medicine Service. When scheduling, please indicate your interest in the CT pneumocolonography study with Dr. Steffey/Dr Marks.

Participation Requirements: In order to participate in this study, a colonoscopic exam must have been recommended for workup of your dog’s problem, and your dog must be scheduled to receive a colonoscopic exam under general anesthesia at UC Davis.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, your dog will receive a CT scan (with and without intravenous contrast material) in conjunction with carbon dioxide gas insufflated into the rectal lumen. Following CT pneumocolonography, your dog will receive the scheduled colonoscopy, which is the current standard of care for assessment of these masses, and if clinically indicated for the care of your dog, colonic biopsies or surgery will be obtained according to your discussion with your attending clinician.

Benefits: In return for participation in this study, your dog will receive a free CT scan (an approximately $800 value to you), which may directly benefit your dog, as it can provide important information for treatment recommendations that other types of imaging cannot. CT evaluation of local lymph nodes is an additional benefit as CT has been demonstrated to be very helpful in the evaluation of regional lymph nodes for metastatic disease in other types of cancer in other locations.

Owner Responsibilities: There is no additional cost to you for your dog’s participation in the study. You are financially responsible for hospital costs associated with the standard care of your dog, including abdominal ultrasound, general anesthesia, colonoscopy, hospitalization, biopsies, and any other diagnostic tests recommended for evaluation of your dog’s disease by your attending clinician.

Lung Tumors: Identifying Lymph Node Metastasis

Title: Assessment of methods of improving identification of regional lymph nodes in patients with lung cancer

Purpose of Study: Knowing whether or not there is metastatic tumor in the regional lymph nodes is very important prognostic information for dogs with lung tumors, as dogs that do not have metastatic disease in their lymph nodes in general have a much longer lifespan. Chemotherapy is often recommended for patients who have metastatic disease, but is not recommended for dogs who do not have metastatic spread. The aim of this study is to provide information that will allow us to better identify these lymph nodes at surgery, to improve the safety of surgical dissection, and to minimize surgical time during removal of these lymph nodes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements:

  • A diagnosis of a solitary lung tumor
  • Your decision to pursue surgical removal of your dog’s lung tumor

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services. A CT scan at the VMTH is part of the normal expected surgical planning for lung tumor surgery at our institution, and is the financial responsibility of the client, but may be performed under the same anesthetic episode as the planned surgery. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Procedures: During CT and surgery, special dyes will be injected intravenously or into the lung around your dog’s tumor and uptake by the regional lymph nodes will be assessed.

Benefits: Information regarding the status of your dog’s lymph nodes is very important in prognosis for this disease. This technique will help surgeons to identify and more safely remove your dog's lymph nodes at surgery; pathology of the removed lymph node(s) will provide improved information to direct recommendations that we an give you for postoperative care and treatment. If based on the initial CT results you elect to have your dog goes to surgery as part of this study, the study will retroactively pay for the cost of your dog’s CT scan (a $900 value to you).

Owner Responsibilities: There is no anticipated additional cost to you for your dog’s participation in the study. The cost of the dyes and operative imaging are covered by the study. The primary risks of this procedure are 1) allergic reaction to the drugs used to identify the lymph nodes (very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics)), and 2) air leakage from the lung at the site of the injection (if it occurs, this should be a short term problem, as removal of the affected lung will be performed as part of the tumor removal). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications. Standard anesthetic and surgical risks of lung surgery and lymph node surgery will apply and will be discussed at the time of your visit.

Nasal cancer: Using a Combination of Therapies for Treatment

Title: Nasal tumors: Intra-arterial Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy to Treat Nasal Carcinoma

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to prospectively evaluate the response of nasal cancer to a combination of therapies (chemotherapy and radiation therapy) in dogs.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs diagnosed with nasal tumors

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Procedures: Dogs that are scheduled to receive radiation therapy for the treatment of nasal cancer can be enrolled in the study. Dogs will be placed into a group receiving radiation therapy alone or with chemotherapy.  Response to these treatments will be assessed with CT scans (done before and after treatment).

Benefits: The CT scans, chemotherapy administration, and part of the radiation therapy will be paid for by the study.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner will be responsible for providing follow-up information to the treating clinicians and returning the dog 4 weeks after initiation of radiation therapy for a second CT evaluation (the first is performed prior to treatment).

Prostate cancer: Evaluating Embolization as a Treatment Option

Title: Evaluation of the Use of Embolization in the Treatment of Prostatic Neoplasia

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this project is to describe the procedure of prostatic artery embolization in a group of dogs with naturally-occurring prostate cancer. A secondary objective is to evaluate the effect that prostatic artery embolization has on clinical signs and the size of the tumor.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with prostate cancer

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Procedures: Dogs will undergo prostatic artery embolization. Pre-procedural ultrasound imaging and computed tomographic findings will be compared to post-procedural ultrasound imaging and computed tomographic findings. Complications associated with the procedure will be recorded and owners will receive a questionnaire to assess the clinical signs of the dog both pre- and post-procedure.

Benefits: The benefits of enrolling in this study include financial support for both pre- and post-procedure diagnostics. Additionally, funding from this grant will be applied towards the procedure. We hope that the data acquired in this study will allow us to advance the treatment of cancer in both dogs and people.

Owner Responsibilities: The owner will be responsible for scheduling appointments (initial and 1 month follow-up) and keeping those appointments as required by protocol.

Prostate, Urethra and/or Bladder Tumors: Evaluating Urethral Stent Outcomes

Title: Outcome Associated with Urethral Stent Placement

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this project is to determine the outcome of dogs with cancer-induced urethral obstructions and in dogs with urethral stents.

Contact: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or or call (530) 752-1393 to make an appointment.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with tumors causing obstruction of the urethra (bladder, urethra and prostate)

Initial Evaluation for Participation, Procedures, Benefits, and Owner Responsibilities: Contact Dr. Culp for details at wculp@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-1393.

Nasolacrimal Apparatus Blockage: A multidisciplinary, minimally invasive treatment

Title: Stenting as a Treatment for Nasolacrimal Apparatus Obstruction

Purpose of Study: Tears from the ocular surface are drained from the eye through several important structures collectively known as the nasolacrimal apparatus (NLA). This frequently becomes blocked and sometimes infected leading to discomfort, tear staining, eye discharge, and skin inflammation, all of which are associated with a decreased quality of life. Clinically, NLA obstructions can be very frustrating to treat and can often lead to permanent obstruction.

We have established a team at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital consisting of specialists with expertise in Ophthalmology, Internal Medicine, Endoscopy, Diagnostic Imaging, and Interventional Radiology and have utilized fluoroscopy to successfully treat NLA obstruction in dogs. We have utilized fluoroscopy, CT, and endoscopy and capitalized on improvements in instrumentation and minimally invasive techniques developed for catheterization of other challenging locations such as the ureters to successfully treat NLA obstruction.

To date, our team has successfully cannulated the nasolacrimal duct of 5 dogs and 1 horse referred for NLA obstruction, all of which we have managed and monitored for at least 8 weeks here at the VMTH. The initial clinical response in these patients has been extremely encouraging with all 6 cases demonstrating what the owners define as complete resolution of signs.

Based upon the success of this initial pilot study, we have initiated a clinical trial to recruit and treat more cases and to evaluate more objective outcome measures.

Contact: Please call 530-752-3937 to schedule your initial visit to the UC Davis Veterinary Ophthalmology Service

Participation Requirements: Dogs demonstrating signs of nasolacrimal apparatus (NLA) blockage

Initial Evaluation for Participation: None

Procedures: After an initial examination at the UCD VMTH to ensure the patient meets study entry criteria, owners will provide informed consent and complete a questionnaire concerning their dog’s signs. Patients will then undergo initial testing including CT scanning of the NLA, and NLA stenting using endoscopy and fluoroscopy. The stent will be left in position for at least 6 weeks. After stent removal, similar testing including CT scanning will again be performed, and owners will repeat the same questionnaire. Diagnostic test results from before and after stenting will be compared. Some financial subsidization of case management costs is available through the clinical trial.

Benefits: The study will subsidize costs associated with the second CT scan. Based upon results from the 6 patients in the pilot study, it is possible but not assured that your pet will have reduction or resolution of signs associated with NLA obstruction. Information acquired during this study will allow us to advance the treatment for NLA blockage for veterinary patients worldwide.

Owner Responsibilities: You will be responsible for all costs except those associated with the repeat CT scan following stent removal. Additionally, you will need to bring your dog to the VMTH for all scheduled appointments including a follow-up visit at least 6-8 weeks after the procedure. Lastly, you will be required to complete questionnaires prior to and after the NLA stenting procedure

Printable Flyer (PDF)

Variety of Tumors: Assessing Minimally Invasive Tumor Ablation

Title: Thermal ablation of cancer in dogs and cats

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the outcome of treating veterinary patients with minimally invasive tumor ablation technologies including cryoablation and microwave ablation. These methods are growing in the treatment of a variety of cancers in the human medical field, but information in veterinary patients is currently very limited. To date we have completed a study on cryoablation in nasal tumor patients, and this technique has been very successful in reducing tumor volume in nasal tumor patients – although there are no more spots in the formal nasal tumor study, because of this success, we continue to offer this technique as a clinical service to nasal cancer patients, and are expanding the types of cancer that we are evaluating.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey. The coordinators will likely advise you to send your pet's medical records and imaging results for Dr. Steffey's review. If, based on this information, your pet is deemed an appropriate candidate, an appointment will be scheduled.

Participation Requirements: In order to participate in this study, your pet must have **solitary** malignant soft tissue or bony mass **that is deemed amenable to ablation**. Tumor types that MAY be amenable to this treatment include lung tumors, kidney tumors, adrenal tumors, and bone tumors in certain locations. however determination of eligibility is complex and relates to the size of the lesion as well as proximity to/involvement of other important nearby structures. Tumors that are superficial (involving or near to the skin) or that involve the gastrointestinal tract are not amenable to this treatment.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, under general anesthesia, ablation probes will be placed into your pet’s mass under ultrasound guidance and the tumor will be ablated.

Benefits: This treatment method may only be palliative, but it is our hope that in appropriately selected patients, we may improve quality of life as well as longevity.

Owner Responsibilities: The study will cover the cost of the ablation probes and generator. Costs of pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of the disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility.

Variety of Tumors and Diseases: Improving Operative Detection of Tumors

Title: Fluorescent imaging of cancer

Purpose of Study: Near-infrared fluorescent imaging utilizes special wavelengths of light to identify important structures, and is used in surgery to improve surgical decision making. The fluorescent light is generated by a special contrast agent (a “fluorophore”) that is injected into the patient. When a special light source is used to illuminate the surgical site, any tissue in which this fluorophore is located will glow, aiding the surgeon in identifying the location or extent of disease. Based on early experiments in rodents and human clinical trials, this very sensitive tool has the potential to improve surgical decision-making and improve overall treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this imaging modality in veterinary patients presenting with naturally occurring neuroendocrine tumors disease processes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements: Dogs with the following conditions are most likely to benefit from this study: hyperparathyroidism, thyroid cancer, pancreatic cancer, adrenal cancer, thymoma, mammary (breast) cancer, lung cancer, anal sac gland cancer, oral cancer, mast cell tumor. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by the V.M.T.H. Small Animal Surgery, Internal Medicine, or Oncology services.

Procedures: If you agree to participate, the best fluorophore for your pet’s tumor will be administered or intravenously, at a dose and timing considered to be optimal by your attending veterinarian.

Benefits: It is hoped, but is not known if there will be a specific benefit to your individual pet. Fluorescent imaging may or may not improve operative localization and dissection of your pet’s tumor.

Owner Responsibilities: Costs of standard pre-operative workup, general anesthesia, recommended imaging, hospitalization, and general management of your pet’s disease process or any complications that occur during treatment are your responsibility. The cost of the fluorophore and special imaging is covered by the study. There are no risks associated with the imaging itself, as it only involves light; there is no radiation exposure to the patient. The fluorophores used in this study are FDA-approved for use in humans and have been used without complication in our hospital for the past 18 months. The primary risk of this procedure is associated with injection of these drugs is an allergic reaction, which is very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications.

Variety of Tumors: Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping

Title: Identification of sentinel lymph nodes with intraoperative fluorescence

Purpose of Study: Near-infrared fluorescent imaging utilizes special wavelengths of light to identify important structures, and is used in surgery to improve surgical decision making. The fluorescent light is generated by a special contrast agent (a “fluorophore”) that is injected into the patient. When a special light source is used to illuminate the surgical site, any tissue in which this fluorophore is located will glow, aiding the surgeon in identifying the location or extent of disease. Based on early experiments in rodents and human clinical trials, this very sensitive tool has the potential to improve surgical decision-making and improve overall treatment for a wide variety of diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of this imaging modality in veterinary patients presenting with natural disease processes.

Contact: Call 530-752-1393 and ask to speak to the Soft Tissue Surgery scheduling coordinators to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michele Steffey.

Participation Requirements: Dogs scheduled for surgery to treat their primary tumor, and for whom clients are interested in improving their pet’s staging information by lymph node biopsy. Dogs most likely to benefit from this technique include those with primary lung tumors, mast cell tumors, oral cancers, and carcinomas in general, as these are types of tumors that tend to exhibit spread by the lymphatic system. Tumors may be external (skin associated) or internal. Dogs with severe kidney or liver disease are not eligible to participate.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Evaluation by Dr. Michele Steffey on the Soft Tissue Surgery Service.

Procedures: The best fluorophore for your pet’s tumor will be administered either subcutaneously or intravenously, at a dose and timing considered to be optimal by your attending veterinarian.

Benefits: Preliminary, not yet published results have demonstrated that the fluorescent imaging is very helpful in locating the important lymph nodes at surgery, which often reduces the amount of dissection needed, and may reduce the amount of time under anesthesia. The purpose of this study is to aid in identifying lymph nodes for improved staging (lymph node biopsy) at the time your pet’s primary tumor is removed. It is hoped, but is not known, if there will be a specific benefit to your individual pet. Depending upon your pet’s specific tumor type and the biopsy results, use of this technique and lymph node biopsy may or may not impact the postoperative treatment recommendations provided to your dog.

Owner Responsibilities: The cost of the fluorophore and special imaging is covered by the study. There are no risks associated with the imaging itself, as it only involves light; there is no radiation exposure to the patient. The fluorophores used in this study are FDA-approved for use in humans and have been used without complication in our hospital for the past 18 months. The primary risk of this procedure is associated with injection of these drugs is an allergic reaction, which is very rare, but unpredictable in an individual patient (like any other drug reaction, including antibiotics). If an allergic reaction should occur, immediate costs of treatment (immediate supportive medications, support of blood pressure) will be covered by the study; however, the owner will be responsible for any treatment costs for prolonged or severe complications.

Orthopedic Surgery
Osteoarthritis: Finding a Treatment for the Pain of Arthritis

Title: A Randomized, Placebo Controlled, Proof of Concept Study of the Efficacy of Two New Investigational Medications in the Treatment of Canine Osteoarthritis Pain

Purpose of Study: The primary purpose of this study is to test two investigational medications to determine if either one, or both, work to potentially decrease signs of pain of osteoarthritis in dogs.

Contact: Dr. Duane Robinson at darobinso@ucdavis.edu.

Participation Requirements: Dogs that are at least 2 years old with arthritis in one or more joints of the front and/or back legs. They must weigh 15-50kg (33-110 lbs) and be healthy with NO evidence of serious chronic disease (e.g., known or suspected invasive or metastatic cancer, endocrinologic, immune-mediated disease, cognitive dysfunction, liver disease, kidney disease, congestive heart failure, gastric or duodenal ulceration, inflammatory bowel disease). Please note that well-controlled thyroid disease is allowed.

Initial Evaluation for Participation: Please tell the study veterinarian and staff if your dog has participated in any other clinical trials or studies in the past and about ALL medications or supplements your dog is presently taking or has received in the past 6 months (including “joint health” treatments). Although not a complete list, your dog must not have received non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), COX-2 inhibitors, corticosteroids, opioids, herbal products indicated for pain relief or osteoarthritis, gabapentin, pentosan polysulphate, PSGAG, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, or acupressure therapy within 6 months of your initial visit.

Procedures: The study will last approximately 6 weeks (4 visits). If your dog qualifies for the study and you agree to participate, your dog will be randomly assigned to receive one of four medications: one of the two investigational medications, Carprofen (Rimadyl) or a placebo. You will be required to administer study medication to your dog by mouth (capsules) twice daily for approximately 14 days. Additionally, you will be given a daily diary that should be brought to the third visit to document when you gave the medication, any other treatments your dog received, and abnormal signs that your dog experiences to complete several questionnaires about your dog based on behavior from the previous week. The same person will need to bring the dog for each visit and will need to complete the diary.

  • Visits 1 and 2 (to determine eligibility):
    • Visit 1: We will do a physical and lameness examinations, take X-rays of the area of interest, and collect blood and urine sampling. Your dog may need sedation during the X-rays.
    • Visit 2: We will collect blood again, and if he/she qualifies for the study, your dog will receive the first dose of assigned medication during that visit. After the first dose is administered, your dog will need to stay at the clinic for at least an additional 3 hours for additional blood sample collections. Your dog’s assigned medication will be sent home with you for you to administer twice a day, as instructed by the study veterinarian or staff.
  • Telephone “visit” (phone call) approximately 7 days after the second office visit from the veterinary staff to see how your dog is doing.
  • Visit 3 will occur approximately two weeks after Visit 2. Your dog will need to stay at the clinic for at least 3 hours after receiving the last dose to have additional blood samples collected.
  • Visit 4 (final safety follow-up visit): Approximately two weeks after Visit 3, we will follow-up on the health of your dog and collect blood and urine samples.

Benefits: The study will cover the costs of all study procedures, including the study’s required radiographs (and associated sedatives if needed), office visits, and laboratory tests. Upon completion of the study, you will be eligible to receive a $150 Visa gift card. If your dog experiences any adverse events (uncomfortable, severe or life-threatening), the sponsor will cover the reasonable and necessary veterinary fees and expenses related to the event; however you will be responsible for any veterinary care and costs for your dog thereafter.

We cannot promise any benefits to your dog or other animals from your taking part in this clinical trial; however, possible benefits include direct relief of pain due to arthritis in your dog. As a result of this study, we hope to learn more about osteoarthritis, and determine how the assigned medicines may help osteoarthritis pain. The medicines being tested could be further developed for either animals or humans.

Owner Responsibilities:

  • Bring your dog to the VMTH four separate times over approximately 6-weeks
  • Administer the study medication to your dog by mouth (capsules) twice daily for approximately 14 days with or without food
  • Complete the required daily diary accurately and fully each day for approximately 2 weeks

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