Archived News


April 21, 2005

Doxie DerbyWorking to improve the quality of life for older dogs and their owners, veterinarians at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in Davis and San Diego are seeking participants for a study to determine the effectiveness of specific dietary supplements on improving cognitive impairment of aging dogs.

Animals that show signs of senility such as disorientation, changes in the sleep cycle, decreased signaling to go outside, and/or changes in social interactions are the ideal subjects. Eligible dogs have not received medication or supplements to treat senility in the last three months. Dogs in this study should be between 11 and 14 years old and live in a household of no more than four dogs.

Thanks to improvements in nutrition, medical care, and protection from accidental death, many companion dogs live well into elderly stages of life. A longer life, however, brings age-related degenerative changes in the body, including the brain. Abnormal behaviors may result from disturbances of memory and learning, referred to as cognitive impairment or senility. Behavioral changes in senior dogs appear similar to those in humans with dementia, particularly those with Alzheimers disease.

Melissa Bain, DVM, a veterinary behaviorist at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the lead investigator, states that such behavioral changes create a major impact on the human-animal bond. "For example, sleepnessnes may result in nighttime pacing. Memory loss or other infirmities may lead to house soiling in a previously house-trained pet. These problems can reach a point where an owner must make a painful decision whether to allow a beloved family dog to remain in the home."

Antioxidants are one of the nutritional supplements being investigated in the study, which is expected to last six to 12 months. Antioxidants and other supplements have been shown to slow the progression of dementia in dogs and humans.

The study takes place in Davis and at the UC Veterinary Medical Center--San Diego, located in Rancho Santa Fe. Enrolled animals make two visits during the study. They receive free physical examinations, laboratory tests and treatment advice.

If you think your dog may qualify for the clinical trial, please call the toll-free Companion Animal Behavior Clinical Trial Line at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, (866) 790-0279. You will take part in a telephone screening interview to determine your dog's eligibility.

More information is available on the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Web site,