sealPurdue News

February 1, 2002

Dogs needed for Purdue veterinary study on aging

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine's Pet Wellness Clinic is seeking additional dogs that could benefit from a study currently under way on how diets impact the immune system of older canines.

A team of veterinary scientists launched the study in 2000, and about 60 dogs have already participated. The team needs an additional 10 participants before it can finalize the data. The dogs must be enrolled by April 1. The study will be completed by Aug. 1.

To be eligible, dogs must be at least 11 years old, unless they are giant breed dogs weighing more 100 pounds, which are eligible if they are at least nine years old. Participants receive three complimentary wellness exams, three months of food and routine vaccinations. Pet owners must pay for a basic geriatric metabolic screen which costs about $100.

The study requires three visits during a three-month time frame. The pet owners and their families must be able to feed the dog an exclusive diet during the entire time of the study. Nutritionally neutral snacks are available that will allow owners to give their dogs treats – or multiple pieces of a treat – daily.

Dogs with known age-related health concerns, such as early kidney compromise, hypothyroidism or arthritis, are particularly needed for this study. Dogs on any corticosteroids, anabolic steroids or other immune suppressants are not eligible to participate. Dogs that cannot have their diet modified or controlled for three months also are ineligible.

Dr. Steve Thompson, Pet Wellness Clinic director, is conducting the study in conjunction with Dr. Harm HogenEsch, head of the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, who is the principal investigator. Thompson says there is currently a renewed focus on the immune system and the way in which the aging process affects it.

"Diet is a primary component which we know we can modify to affect immune response," Thompson said. "The potential to develop commercially available premium diets that benefit all dogs in an age group is exciting. We are glad to be a part of Purdue's focus on geriatrics and its applications to dogs in particular."

Pet owners in Tippecanoe County can contact Saralyn Sharp, of the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Pet Wellness Clinic, at (765) 494-1107, for more details or to schedule an appointment.

CONTACT: Steve Thompson, (765) 496-3399,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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