Rapamycin for dogs -- benefits and risks

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Rapamycin for dogs -- benefits and risks

Rapamycin for Dogs — Benefits and Risks

Rapamycin has received a lot of publicity over the last couple of years because of its longevity benefits  in every mammalian species studied to date. 

However, every drug known to man has potential side effects.

Let’s take a deeper dive into rapamycin for dogs– benefits and risks.  

Rapamycin for Dogs — The Benefits


Like many drugs used in veterinary medicine, many of rapamycin’s benefits have been extrapolated from studies in humans or other mammals.

These studies show that….

Amongst veterinarians, the recent study of Dr. Matt Kaeberlein at the University of Washington created quite a stir when his group did a DOG study on rapamycin and confirmed….

  • Improved cardiac function in dogs with existing heart disease,
  •  More affection, which the group attributed to less discomfort,
  • and most importantly… NO adverse side effects during the study duration.


Rapamycin for dogs -- the risks

Rapamycin for Dogs — The Risks

When we consider whether to use a drug or supplement on our dog, there is NOTHING more important than its risk profile.  So what are the risks of rapamycin for dogs?  

The worst case scenario for ANY drug in ANY patient is anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction which can result in death.  This risk exists for aspirin… and it exists for rapamycin.

When given at high doses in humans, the most common adverse effects of rapamycin in humans include…

  • GI disturbance — vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea
  • elevation in blood glucose
  • skin disease — rashes, acne

However, these side effects are logically most common at the high doses of rapamycin needed for immune suppression or cancer therapy in humans.

Now let’s talk specifically about our dogs, where we are generally using much lower and less frequent dosing.

In the Kaeberlein study mentioned above, the incidence of adverse side effects for dogs on rapamycin was…. ZERO.

To date in over 130 dog patients under our care, the incidence of adverse side effects for dogs on rapamycin has been…. ZERO.  Well, one dog suffered from a little… flatulence.


Rapamycin Dosing for Dogs

Based upon the original Kaeberlein study, we are currently recommending rapamycin for dogs at a dosage of 0.1 mg per kg given 3x weekly with food.

This translates into 1 mg of rapamycin for every 22# body weight, given 3x weekly with food.

For longevity benefits of rapamycin in dogs, we recommend one month on/one month off rapamycin therapy.  For patients facing cancer or other chronic disease, we are currently recommending continual therapy.

Dr. Kaeberlein is in the midst of a much more ambitious study called the Dog Aging Project.  In this study they are using rapamycin at a dosage of 0.15 mg per kg body weight given ONCE weekly.  This translates into 1.5 mg of rapamycin per 22# body weight, again given once weekly.

Need help figuring out your dog’s dosage?  Let’s get together and solve it.

rapamycin for dogs with osteosarcoma
rapamycin for dogs--benefits and risks

Rapamycin for Dogs — Questions Not Yet Answered

There are three questions about rapamycin for dogs that remain unanswered… for now.

  • Although rapamycin appears very safe for dogs, are there long term side effects we are unaware of?
  • What is the optimal duration of therapy — a month, a year, or for the duration?
  • What is the optimal dose of rapamycin for dogs, or is more simply better?

Smarter folks than me are working on those questions, even as you read this.

Have more questions about rapamycin and your dog?  Let’s talk.

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