Cailin Heinze, VMD, DACVN, Leads New Diet Study in Dogs Undergoing Chemotherapy

Heinze Calin (2)Cailin Heinze, VMD, DACVN, grew up on a small hobby farm outside of Pittsburgh and idolized her family’s veterinarian. By the time she was seven, she was certain that she would become a veterinarian. After earning her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania and working in private practice, Dr. Heinze completed a veterinary residency in small animal clinical nutrition and a master’s degree in nutritional biology at the University of California – Davis.

Complementing her clinical and teaching responsibilities at Cummings School and Foster Hospital for Small Animals, Dr. Heinze is proud to be the lead Principal Investigator on an important diet study of dogs undergoing chemotherapy. The study: ‘Investigation of a novel diet for support dogs undergoing chemotherapy for mast cell tumors or multicentric lymphoma’ is currently enrolling dogs diagnosed with mast cell tumors or lymphoma that have not been previously treated for their cancer.  (

Eight weeks in duration, the diet program is initiated at the same time as the administration of chemotherapy. This study is a great opportunity for dogs diagnosed with cancer and has the potential to reduce the gastrointestinal side effects of chemotherapy. While it does not cover the cost of chemotherapy, pet owners receive an 8-week supply of high quality food, complimentary blood work and several no-cost clinical visits with Foster Hospital’s oncology department, as well as a monetary credit for successful completion of the trial.

“It’s the team atmosphere, sharing of knowledge, and desire to gather more knowledge that make Cummings School such a great place to work,” says Dr. Heinze, who recently celebrated her four-year work anniversary. With only 70 board-certified veterinary nutritionists in the country, Dr. Heinze and two of her fellow board-certified colleagues provide unique teaching and services that more than half of the veterinary schools in the country are not staffed to provide.

Outside of work, she stays very active. Calling herself a “health nut,” she loves to cook, which dovetails nicely with her career as an animal nutritionist. She also loves to garden, hike, camp, walk and jog and enjoys her two cockatiels, as well as schooling lower level dressage with her older Thoroughbred gelding.



At the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals, part of our mission is to investigate why weight management is so challenging and how we can make weight loss safer for pets  and easier for owners and veterinarians. Drs. Linder and Freeman have surveyed pet diets marketed for weight loss and published the results in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. They found that  ‘light’ diets varied tremendously in calorie density, feeding directions, and price (for example, dry canine diets ranged from 217-440 kcal/cup). These results support the notion that having owners simply ‘switch to a light food is unlikely to be successful’ and depending on the current diet, might even lead pets to gain weight.

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Clinical Case Challenge

Maxy, a 2-year-old spayed female Golden Retriever, presents for her first weigh in after starting a weight loss program. Her initial physical exam reveals no abnormalities other than a body condition score of 9/9 (normal muscle condition). Her starting weight is 105 pounds, with an estimated ideal weight of 80 pounds. Her diet history reveals that she was receiving 2000 kcal from her current diet. You start her on 1600 kcal of a therapeutic diet after calculating that this is 80% of her current estimated caloric intake. After two weeks on the veterinary therapeutic diet, the owner is upset that Maxy has gained one-half pound and is now 105.5 lbs. Continue reading

Current Concepts


Obesity is one of the most common health problems affecting pets, with up to 59% of dogs and cats being overweight. Body condition scoring (BCS) should be performed on every patient and only be used to assess body fat, while muscle condition scoring should be used to quantify muscle wasting (for example, an obese pet, which would be a BCS 9 on a 9 point scale, could also have severe muscle wasting). Obesity has been associated with numerous diseases, including pancreatitis, osteoarthritis, dermatologic disease, diabetes, certain types of neoplasia, and respiratory tract disease. In addition, one major study showed mild to moderately (BCS 6-7/9) overweight dogs had shorter median lifespans than their leaner counterparts (BCS 4-5/9). Obesity is more easily prevented than treated and the veterinarian plays an important role in educating clients before a pet becomes obese. Continue reading