Clinical Trial FAQs

  • As an academic veterinary medical center, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine strives to advance veterinary and human health through clinical studies. These studies investigate methods to improve prevention, detection and/or treatment of various diseases by evaluating such things as effects of a novel treatment or procedure or effectiveness of a newly-developed medical device.

    Clinical studies lead to diagnostics and treatments that clarify which therapeutic approaches work best for certain diseases or conditions and may change the way veterinary medicine is practiced. As an optional benefit that patients can take advantage of at an academic veterinary medical center focused on treating animals and advancing medicine, clinical trials afford access to tests or treatments otherwise unavailable. In many cases, clinical trials are also conducted to find an improved treatment when the current therapies are not effective.

  • Clinical trials provide critical pieces of information that help to assess a new approach to diagnosing or treating a disease. Both veterinary and human medicine rely on these studies to find better and more accurate ways to diagnose disease, to improve medical procedures and to develop new treatments with the potential to cure disease and improve quality of life. Clinical studies led to the development of new flea, tick and heartworm preventatives, new arthritis treatments for dogs and horses, and better surgical procedures for such conditions as cruciate ligament rupture in dogs.

  • Clinical trials are always voluntary; it is completely your decision as to whether or not to volunteer your pet for a clinical trial. Prior to enrolling your pet in a study, you will be given a consent form that details information about the study, benefits and risks, financial considerations and required commitments. You will be given time to ask questions and to consider the study. The Informed Consent form will need to be signed prior to enrolling your pet. The staff at Foster Hospital for Small Animals will be available to answer any questions you may have at any point throughout the study, and you will always have the choice to withdraw your pet at any time.

    • Your pet will receive care from a highly specialized support team of veterinarians and veterinary nurses who monitor progress in the study very closely.
    • Typically some, if not all, of the costs of participating in the clinical study, including medications, blood tests, treatments and follow-up, may be covered. Additionally, many studies provide a financial credit at for future treatments once the trial is complete.
    • In some cases,  a clinical study in which your pet may participate will not only help advance the care of veterinary patients, but may also provide important new information that can improve the care of human patients affected by the same or very similar disease.
    • Your pet is afforded access to advanced state-of-the-art care diagnostics and cutting-edge therapies that are often unavailable outside of the clinical trial, providing hope for owners, a better quality of life for the pet and even additional years to live.
  • With any clinical trial there may be some side effects or risks involved, however, all clinical studies are made available at Foster Hospital for Small Animals only after initial studies have determined that the treatment is safe and therefore, the risk to pets from participating is relatively low. Additionally, all clinical trials are reviewed and approved by the Clinical Studies Review Committee (CSRC) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to ensure the welfare of study participants.

    The CSRC is a group of doctors and experts that reviews the detailed plan of a clinical trial for scientific quality and correct study design, serves to ensure informed consent and protect animals from conflict of interest issues. The IACUC reviews research protocols and conducts evaluations of the animal care and use, which includes the results of inspections of facilities.

    The experimental treatment may not be effective for your animal and may be associated with side effects. Your condition may not get better, or it may get worse during a research study. There may be some unknown or rare and unforeseeable risks related to the study. These risks may include allergic reaction or an interaction with another medication. All of the known risks will be discussed with you and provided in writing to you to you prior to deciding upon enrolling your pet in a clinical trial.

  • Any costs involved with a specific study will be discussed with you prior to enrollment of your pet. However, the majority of studies offered at Foster Hospital for Small Animals offer some degree of financial support and in many cases, participation in the study is at no cost to the pet owner. Additionally, some studies may offer a financial credit to be used upon completion of the study to help support continuing care pet care at Foster Hospital.

    • Read, understand, and then sign the Informed Consent Form. The Clinical Trials Office staff is available to answer any questions you may have about the research study.
    • Complete the study procedures thoroughly, including giving your pet its medications on time, withholding food when appropriate and completing questionnaires or study diaries as requested.
    • Maintain scheduled appointments at Foster Hospital for Small Animals for all study-related visits. These are often scheduled for specific dates to gather the necessary data along a specific timeline. Please reschedule any missed appointments as soon as you are able.
    • Notify the Clinical Trials Office immediately if you have any concerns about the health of your pet, if you note side effects of the treatment, or if your availability for future visits should change.
  • Please explore a comprehensive and updated list of our current clinical trials. The study requirements are also provided so you can often quickly determine if your pet may be eligible for a study.

    If you believe that your pet may be eligible for a study, please complete this questionnaire. Once submitted, a member of the Clinical Trials Office team will contact you within one to two business days. Your veterinarian may also contact us directly for more information or complete this referring veterinarian questionnaire.

  • Please check back if you do not see a current trial that fits your pet, as we add new studies monthly. If you have any questions about a particular trial or eligibility, please contact the Clinical Trials Office at clinicaltrials@tufts.edu.