Pet Owners & Referring Veterinarians

Cat getting an exam at UC Davis

Owners & Vets

Our goal is to provide the highest standard of care for your pet. As we treat our patients with standard methods, our veterinary clinicians are also evaluating new scientific breakthroughs that have the potential to improve the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. We use veterinary clinical trials to assess promising new treatments, drugs or procedures, but only after preliminary studies have established that the new methods are safe and have the potential to work better than existing methods.

In the short-term, the goal of our veterinary clinical trials is to improve the quality of life for your pet by providing them with the opportunity for diagnostics and treatments that otherwise may not be available. If the clinical trial results are promising, your pet's participation could benefit the health care of other animals in the future. Successful outcomes from veterinary clinical trials could also lead to comparable human clinical trials because people and companion animals suffer from many of the same disorders.  A few common disorders shared by pets and people include:

  • Cancer
    • Lymphoma
    • Osteosarcoma (bone tumors)
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Dry Eye syndrome)
  • Osteoarthritis (arthritis)
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Genetic abnormalities (e.g., cleft palates)

Your pet's participation in these clinical trials could end up improving your health or that of your loved ones someday!

These trials are absolutely voluntary and the health care of your pet will not suffer if you do not choose to enroll in the trial. If you do choose to enroll, you can decide to withdraw your pet from the study at any time. We will respect your decision, whatever it may be, because you are a valuable asset to our program.

If you are interested in knowing more about clinical trials here at UC Davis, browse through our website or contact us!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a veterinary clinical trial?
  • A veterinary clinical trial is a study conducted on veterinary patients and focused on evaluating the effects of new therapies, medical devices and diagnostic tests for eventual use in veterinary or human medicine. Clinical trials are specifically designed to benefit enrolled patients while at the same time advancing our scientific knowledge.
  • Where do you conduct your trials?
  • Unless otherwise specified, the clinical trials listed on the UC Davis Veterinary Center for Clinical Trials website are conducted in Davis, California. The one exception are some of the trials outlined under Genetics (as many of these only require samples to be shipped through the mail).
  • Are clinical trials voluntary?
  • Absolutely. Your pet will never be placed in a clinical trial without your knowledge or permission. Owners of all qualified patients involved in veterinary clinical trials must sign a consent form before the study begins. Informed consent is your right as a veterinary clinical trial participant. The consent document outlines the purpose of the study, the exact treatments you will receive, possible side effects, and your right to withdraw at any time. Make sure you understand what costs are covered by the trial (e.g., treatment, medical care, travel, etc.).  If you do not understand something, please ask your veterinarian to clarify. Signing the informed consent form acknowledges that the trial was explained to you and that you understand the information presented in the document. You can, however, withdraw from a clinical trial at any time, even after signing the form.
  • What are the benefits of participating in a clinical trial?
  • Potential benefits to enrolling your pet into a clinical trial include:

    1. Access to a treatment that isn't available yet. This treatment may be more effective or have fewer side effects than the treatments that are currently prescribed.
    2. Regular and careful attention from some of the best veterinary clinicians. The team that conducts clinical trials usually includes top veterinarians and scientists, all of whom will be working with you.
    3. Treatment that may be lower cost. Some, but not all clinical trials may pay for part or all of your pets’ treatment, medical care, travel, and other expenses during the study. Make sure you know exactly what you'll have to pay for before you agree to enroll your pet in a clinical trial.
    4. Contributing to new medical knowledge that may save lives in the future. Many of the excellent diagnostic tests and therapies we routinely use today came about through past veterinary clinical trials [see Animal Roles in Medical Discoveries (PDF) for contribution examples]
    5. The feeling that you're taking a more active role in your pets’ veterinary care.
  • Are there risks involved with participating in a clinical trial?
  • Our clinicians take every precaution to minimize risk to your pet. All clinical trial protocols are reviewed by two separate review boards to ensure that the studies are well-designed, risks are mitigated and there is a reasonable likelihood of a similar or better outcome compared to current standards of veterinary care. Although every effort is made to control the risks, some may be unavoidable. Potential risks include:

    1. The new treatment may not work for for your pet, even if it benefits other patients in the clinical trial. It also may turn out that the new treatment isn't as effective as what's currently available.
    2. More severe side effects than current treatments.
    3. More frequent testing and veterinary visits. Because your pet will be closely monitored, additional visits and tests may be required more often than would occur if you were not participating in the trial.
  • How do I know these trials are safe?
  • Preliminary studies establish that the new methods are safe and have the potential to work better than existing methods.  If the results are promising, veterinary clinical trials can then be established to examine these new methods in companion animals.  Studies that involve people's pets are reviewed by two separate committees, which will thoroughly protect the rights of the owner and the health and well-being of their pets.  These committees consist of veterinarians in a variety of disciplines and specialists trained in reviewing protocols using animals.  The protocol cannot be approved until the investigator appropriately answers all of the questions from both committees. Once the trial has begun, you and your veterinary team will know first-hand about the the effects of the new treatment or procedure.  If you notice any changes in the health or behavior of your animal, please inform your veterinary team as soon as possible.
  • Are there any financial costs to participating?
  • Cost varies depending on the specific clinical trial. Although some trials cover most or all of the cost, others can only partially cover the finances associated with those diagnostic tests and/or treatments required for the study. In other words, they are not likely to pay for all tests or treatments your pet is receiving just because you’re in the study.

    There are many not-for-profit organizations that can provide financial aid if you want to participate in a trial but cannot commit to the financial obligations. Some examples include:
    Alley Cat Allies
    Angels 4 Animals
    Brown Dog Foundation, Inc.
    CareCredit
    Cats in Crisis
    CorgiAid (breed-specific)
    Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance
    Frankie's Friends Charitable Pet Foundation
    In Memory of Magic (IMOM)
    Labrador Life Line (breed-specific)
    Land of Pure Gold Foundation (cancer-specific)
    Paws 4 A Cure
    Rose's Fund for Animals
    The Magic Bullet Fund
    The Riedel Cody Fund
    The Pet Fund
  • How can I find out if my pet qualifies for a study?
  • Each veterinary clinical trial has specific criteria that patients must meet to be included. For example, the study might only concentrate on a certain type or stage of a disease. Enrollment might also be dependent upon patient age, treatments already received, or present health condition. Information about these requirements can be found in the Current Clinical Trials section of this website.
  • What questions should I ask before participating in a veterinary clinical trial?
  • Choosing to be in a clinical trial is an important personal decision. Discuss the following questions with your veterinarian or technicians involved in the study to make an informed choice:

    1. What is the purpose of this clinical trial?
    2. How will my pet benefit?
    3. What are the potential risks involved?
    4. What are my responsibilities?
    5. What kinds of tests and procedures are involved?
    6. Do I have to change veterinarians to be in the trial, or can I stay with my own veterinarian?
    7. Can I learn the final result of the study? If so, how?
    8. Is there any cost to participating in the study or are all costs covered?
    9. What follow-up is involved once my pet's treatment ends?
    10. What treatment will my pet receive if I do not participate in this clinical trial?
  • If I want my pet to participate, what are my responsibilities?
  • 1. Read, understand the information presented, and sign the Owner Informed Consent document.  If you have any questions about the study, please ask your veterinarian or study staff for clarification.
    2. Make sure you know exactly what you'll have to pay for before you agree to enroll your pet in a clinical trial.
    Complete the study procedures as outlined by your veterinarian.
    3. Maintain scheduled appointments, as visits are often scheduled to gather data at specific time points. Please reschedule any missed appointments at the next available opportunity.
    4. Notify the study investigator or your veterinarian regarding any changes in the health of your animal or your willingness to participate in the study.