Clinical trials for Nutrition specialty

  • Description

    We have started a new study to evaluate the use of ultrasound as a quick and non-invasive method of measuring muscle mass in dogs.  In many of the common diseases of dogs, such as heart failure, kidney disease, and cancer, a big problem that occurs is muscle loss.  This muscle loss is important because it can make dogs weak and can negatively affect their quality of life.  We have been studying methods of diagnosing and treating cachexia (the muscle loss that occurs with various diseases) for over 15 years. We are currently evaluating whether ultrasound, an non-invasive test, can be used to quickly and easily diagnose muscle loss in its early stages. 

    Inclusion Criteria

    To be eligible, dogs must be healthy 1-5 year old, neutered dogs (male or female) of the following breeds:



    *Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

    *Doberman pinscher



    Dogs must be purebred and should have no heart murmur or other medical problems. 

    Exclusion Criteria

    Dogs with heart murmurs or any significant medical conditions

    Client Benefits

    If eligible, the dog will get a free examination at Tufts, will have a small blood sample collected (less than ½ teaspoon; to measure red blood cell count, blood sugar, and an estimate of kidney function), an x-ray of the chest to measure bone size, and an ultrasound of the muscles over his or her back (no shaving required). 


    In addition to getting the free tests (blood test, x-ray, and ultrasound of the back muscles), this information will be beneficial in the future for dogs with heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and other common diseases by validating an easy ultrasound test to measure muscle mass. 

    Contact Information

    Dr. Lisa Freeman Phone: (508) 887-4696

  • Description:

    Cancer is one of the most common conditions seen in older dogs and it is becoming more common for owners to opt to treat their pets with chemotherapy.  Dogs undergoing chemotherapy may suffer from side effects of treatment such as vomiting, diarrhea, and reduced appetite.  There are currently no commercial diets that are designed specifically to help support dogs with cancer undergoing chemotherapy by reducing the gastrointestinal side effects of chemotherapy.

    The purpose of the study is to determine whether a specially formulated diet may reduce gastrointestinal side effects associated with chemotherapy and improve quality of life of dogs undergoing chemotherapy.

    Inclusion Criteria:

    • Dogs > 1 year of age with multicentric lymphoma (LSA) and grade 2 or higher mast cell tumors (MCT) that will be treated with standard (non-metronomic) chemotherapy protocols at a participating study site.
    • Weight > 5 kg, temperament suitable for drawing blood without sedation
    • All dogs should be naïve to treatment for the current cancer, but can have been treated for other cancers in the past if greater than 1 year prior.

    Exclusion Criteria:

    • Other diseases expected to potentially decrease quality of life, alter survival time, or limit diet options – e.g. significant heart disease, kidney disease, bad liver disease, etc.
    • Current vomiting or diarrhea or a history of chronic vomiting or diarrhea (more than 6 multi-day episodes per year or one month of consistent clinical signs) within the last year that required medications or special diet for control
    • Dogs with anticipated life expectancy of < 4 months
    • Pet owner not willing to feed prescribed diet and limit treats to 5% of calories

    Dogs will be fed either a high quality control diet appropriate for dog maintenance or the specially designed study diet – neither the pet owners nor the researchers will know which diet the dog is getting. Pet owners will need to fill out quality of life surveys as well as diet journals and fecal score journals every 1-2 weeks, and bring their dogs in for study visits/chemotherapy every 2 weeks. At three points during the study, blood and urine will be collected from fasted dogs.

    Treats and dietary supplements will need to be restricted to only those provided on an approved treat and supplement list.

    Client Benefits:

    The study will cover the costs of all study-related blood work and visits.  You will also receive free high quality pet food for the two month study duration and a $300 credit towards your account balance when you and your dog successfully complete the study and return all study-related paperwork.  The study does not include the costs of cancer staging (including those required to determine study eligibility), or any costs associated with surgery or chemotherapy, additional blood work not required for the study, or follow-up visits outside of those described above.  Your dog’s participation will also allow us to gain information which will help in the management of other dogs undergoing chemotherapy.

    Contact Information:

    To make an appointment with the oncology department please call the oncology liason, Kelly Reed at 508-887-4682

    For questions regarding the clinical trial please email the clinical trials technician, Diane Welsh at: