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Research Lab – Department of Clinical Sciences 

The effect of a new combination of dietary supplements on activity and attention in aging dogs

The Canine Neuro-aging Program at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine is recruiting dogs 10 years of age and older to participate in a study on a combination of anti-aging supplements aimed to improve cognitive function, mobility, and quality of life in older dogs. The basis for this study is rooted in our desire to slow and reverse the effects of aging, an inevitable aspect of our dogs growing older.

Aging occurs when body systems start to decline and fail. This decline can be divided into nine “hallmarks” of aging (López-Otín et al. (2013),  (Figure 1).

Some of these hallmarks of aging can be targeted using dietary supplements. In this trial we will be using supplements to target and remove senescent cells, and to boost the levels of NAD within cells. Senescent cells are cells that are no longer healthy, but are accumulating, causing inflammation and aging. More information on senecene and senolytics can be found here.  NAD is a component of cells which is key to the vitality and health of those cells. More information on NAD’s critical role in cellular metabolism can be found here.

Inclusion criteria for this study are as follows:

  • Species: Dogs.
  • Age: 10 years of age or older.
  • Size and Breed: 8 – 40kg (18 – 90 lbs), any breed as long as the dog is the right weight.
  • Health: Absence of any known health issues that might impact the results of the study or the dog’s ability to complete the full study period (6 months) – see the exclusion section for examples of conditions that would prevent participation.
    • Dogs with stable chronic diseases which are not expected to impact the dog’s ability to complete the study may be accepted at the discretion of the researchers (ex. heart murmur without evidence of progression towards heart failure).
    • If you have specific questions with regards to your dog’s eligibility, please reach out to our research group at k9neuroaging@ncsu.edu.
    • We will need to see blood work (a blood cell count (or CBC) and chemistry panel) performed within the last 6 months to determine whether your dog has problems that might exclude them.
  • Mobility: We are recruiting aging dogs with reduced mobility. However, dogs will need to be able to walk independently on a non-slip surface. They do not have to be able to climb stairs or walk on slick floors.
  • Cognitive Function: We are recruiting dogs with mild changes in cognition. This will be determined based on owner-completed questionnaires.
  • General: All dogs must be able to see, hear and respond to simple commands.

Exclusion criteria for this study are as follows:

  • Health: Dogs with health problems that require treatment that could impact the test results or the dog’s ability to remain within the study for the full period of time (6 months).
    • Dogs with seizures who are on more than one seizure medication, or who are likely to need alterations to their seizure medications (dose or medication type).
    • Dogs with conditions including, but not limited to, diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or cancer.
    • If you have specific questions with regards to your dog’s eligibility, please reach out to our research group at k9neuroaging@ncsu.edu.
  • Inability to complete questionnaires and visits: Anyone who is not willing or able to complete the necessary forms for each visit, will not allow their dog to wear an activity monitor on their collar (requires the collar to be worn 24/7 for one week at multiple points in the study), or is unable to attend appointments at 1, 3, and 6 months after enrollment).
  • Urinary Tract Infection: Dogs who have a urinary tract infection at the start of the study will need to have the infection treated and be free of bacteria on a follow up urine culture prior to being enrolled.
  • Blood work: Dogs who have not had blood work within six months should have blood work performed prior to enrolling.

Appointment Flow

Updated Appointment Flow - Supplement Trial Clean

What information will be collected?

  • You will be asked to complete questionnaires on quality of life, arthritis and joint pain, sleep habits, changes in behaviors, sleep patterns, and general questions about lifestyle.
  • We will perform physical, neurological, and orthopedic examinations – any pertinent findings will be discussed with you after each visit.
  • We will perform blood work and urine analysis (to evaluate overall health) – a copy will be provided to you for your records.
  • We will collect information on mobility and stability. This involves your dog walking in a straight line, completing a figure of eight, standing still on a pressure mat, and going up and down stairs (if it is safe for them to do so). Examples of dogs completing these tests can be seen in the videos linked below.
  • Cognitive testing of attention and problem solving will be conducted. Dogs enjoy this testing, in part because they get a lot of treats, and in part because they seem to enjoy the mental stimulation. Examples of dogs doing the tests can be seen in the videos linked below.
  • Activity data using a small monitoring device attached to your dog’s collar (similar to a fitbit) which tracks how much they get up and move around during the day and night.

Example Videos:

Mobility & Stability Assessment Videos:

Mobility Assessment

Stability Assessment

 

Cognitive Testing Videos:

Sustained Gaze

 

Judgement Bias

Cylinder Task

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Is the supplement being tested safe for my dog to take?
    • The supplements we are using have been given to healthy dogs of different ages with no side effects noted.
    • The supplements are considered extremely safe based on testing in many different species including humans, so adverse effects are not anticipated, however, monitoring is in place to ensure the safety of our participants.
  • How do you monitor for adverse reactions to the supplement?
    • We ask owners to report any problems that dogs in our trials experience. These reports will be reviewed by the study safety monitor in order to identify any possible adverse effect as early as possible. In addition, all dogs will have blood work performed after the first month to monitor for any blood value changes.
  • Is there a way I can ensure my dog gets the supplement rather than the placebo?
    • Unfortunately no. All dogs are randomly assigned to a treatment group to ensure that there is no bias in the clinical trial and that we can therefore truly assess whether the supplements have a beneficial effect.
  • Will I be informed whether my dog is receiving the supplement or the placebo?
    • Not while the trial is ongoing. This is a blinded study, meaning only the pharmacist knows which treatment a participant is receiving.
    • Once the trial is complete and the statistical analysis has been performed, you can be informed of the treatment group.
  • My dog is not eligible for the study based on the enrollment survey. Is there still a way they could participate in the study?
    • Unfortunately, the study requires specific criteria for a dog to be eligible to participate. If you are still interested in enrolling your dog, you may consider one of our other ongoing studies on aging in dogs.
  • What benefits will I receive if my dog participates in the study?
    • Blood work and urinalysis are performed at the start of the study and at regular intervals throughout the study, free of charge. The results of these tests will be provided to you for your records.
    • Your dog will undergo detailed physical examinations at each evaluation, including assessments of their orthopedic and neurologic systems. The findings of these exams will be reported to you.
    • Most dogs enjoy the cognitive testing in part because they get a lot of treats, and in part because they seem to enjoy the mental stimulation.
    • You have the opportunity to contribute to research that may play a crucial role in improving the quality of life of older dogs in the future.
  • What are the potential risks associated with the study?
    • Risks of participating in this clinical trial are considered minimal. The supplements are extremely safe so adverse effects are not anticipated. Safety monitoring is in place in the event that an unanticipated adverse effect occurs.
    • The study does require walking and gait assessment, which could result in a fall or exacerbate signs of pain due to arthritis; however, extreme caution is taken when asking our participants to perform tasks and we will stop if they are showing any signs of weakness, exhaustion, or evidence that they cannot safely complete the task.
    • Blood draws may be associated with transient discomfort, but are routine procedures that do not typically result in pain or complications.
  • Will my personal information be protected?
    • All data provided will be confined to the researchers involved in the project only. Papers describing the results of the study will not identify individual dogs. We will store videotapes of your dog walking or performing cognitive tests for scoring purposes. If you consent, we may use these videos for scientific presentations. You may still participate in the study even if you elect not to allow us to use these videos outside of testing.
  • What if I decide I no longer want to participate in the study part way through?
    • Participation in this study is voluntary and you have the right to withdraw at any time for any reason.

If you wish to enroll your dog in this study and believe they meet the requirements described above, please follow the link below to begin the enrollment survey. The team will contact you based on your answers to the survey as to whether or not your dog is eligible and to schedule their first visit.

Click the following link:

Proceed to the Enrollment Survey

Or copy and paste the following URL into your browser: https://ncsu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2hFUANOdTXWCjz0

This study is sponsored by Animal Biosciences