Guide to Clinical Trials for Pets

Not all clinical trials are done in humans. Just like people, cats and dogs can develop diseases like cancer, diabetesdepression, and canine or feline-specific conditions that may require treatment. To develop and test medications for these conditions veterinarians conduct clinical trials. Clinical trials for pets are different from animal studies because the procedures being tested are exclusively designed to treat animal conditions.


Sometimes clinical trials are also set up to measure the positive effect that pets have on the daily lives of humans.

To many people, their pet is another member of their family, so it is understandable if the idea of a clinical trial sounds scary. Clinical trials are generally very safe and conducted by experts who make sure the dog or cat is subject to no more than minimal risk. These studies can give the pet an opportunity to receive an experimental treatment that, if effective, might cure or slow down the progress of their disease. In some cases, the clinical trials are also setup to measure both the pet and the human owner to understand the influence of the relationship on the owner specifically. The companionship that comes with having an animal has been praised for years, and many clinical trials with animals focus on this side of the equation.

What Are Clinical Trials for Pets?

A clinical trial for a pet is a research study where cats or dogs receive an experimental treatment (such as CBD) meant to cure or improve the quality of life of the animal. When a pet is diagnosed with an illness such as cancer, the veterinarian might suggest the owners to enroll them in a clinical trial. All clinical trials conducted on pets are very specific for their size, age, or breed and are meticulously designed to ensure the safety and comfort of the animal and pet owners.

Just like in humans, when a veterinary decides to conduct a research study or clinical trial, it is because they have sufficient evidence to believe that the new drug or treatment may be beneficial for the animal.

External Link: Clinical Trials in Dogs With Cancer: Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Benefits and Risks of Enrolling My Pet in a Clinical Trial?

If a pet has been diagnosed with a condition and there is no treatment available for it yet or past treatments have not been beneficial, a veterinary might suggest a pet owner to enroll their pet in a clinical trial to try new therapy that is still being researched.

One of the benefits of enrolling a pet in a clinical trial is that it allows the dog or cat to receive a treatment that might be more beneficial than other treatments available for the public. Also, some clinical trials can be completely free or offered at a fraction of the cost.


All the research conducted on pets allows veterinarians to discover new techniques and medications that might end up saving the lives of many more pets to come, so even if the treatment did not work, you and your pet will be helping veterinarians understand the condition and develop better treatment for future pets.

External Link: Should You Enroll Your Pet in a Clinical Trial?

Chronic conditions in pets such as cancer, diabetes, and some types or heart disease are very similar in humans; so significant discoveries made during a pet clinical trial might end up being very beneficial for humans as well.

As with any medication, particularly one that is still being tested, there may be unknown side effects that come up during the trial. Veterinarians and other research staff always monitor cats or dogs very closely during the clinical trial so if anything happens it can be resolved quickly. As with any other clinical trial, if the pet reacts negatively to the treatment or is visibly uncomfortable the owner can withdraw the pet from the study at any time.

Where Are Clinical Trials for Pets Conducted?

Clinical trials for dogs and cats are very often conducted in a veterinary clinic or office. The site will depend on the type of treatment and the size of the study, however, all clinical trials are carried out in facilities that have been specially designed and inspected for that purpose.

How Can I Find A Clinical Trial for My Pet?

Ask your veterinarian if they are conducting any trials relating to your pet’s particular condition, and discuss with them the advantages and disadvantages of enrolling your dog or cat on a clinical trial. There are also many online resources that will help you find a clinical trial that is right for you and your pet based on their condition and your geographic location.

External Link: Veterinary Cancer Society – Clinical Trials

External Link: American Veterinary Medical Association