Drug seeking to prolong the life of dogs isn’t as humane as advertised

Last November, I had to say goodbye to the dog who watched me start first-grade and my first year of college. Her name was Shea, and she was a Labrador retriever mix with black fur and a white patch on her stomach.

We grew up together — but her life ended after 14 years. Every day I think about her and what she meant to me, how I could count on coming home to her and how I would leave space at the end of my bed for her to sleep.

But I never wish that her life was longer, because towards the end, it was obvious that she was in immense pain and suffering. Her hips went bad, her sight went bad and the vet found a lump in her throat. She would always whine during her visits to the vet, but during her very last, she was calm and quiet. She was ready, and although I was heartbroken to let her go, it is what she needed.

Towards the end of last month, Loyal, “a clinical-stage veterinary medicine company developing drugs intended to extend the healthspan and lifespan of dogs,” announced that they are very close to introducing a new drug that would extend the lives of our furry friends — but how ethical is this?

Dog owners seek to prolong the lives of their pets through a controversial method. Photo by Daninelle Bongiovanni

The company has not released the name of the drug yet, and it still must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but they have started recruiting dogs for clinical trials.

Claiming that the drug will give at least another year of life and improve health and behavior, Loyal is putting a lot of time and effort into this. However, questions are already being asked.

Factors like pricing, amount of dosage per dog and the age the dog must be are still up in the air, but my personal problem with this is its complete lack of compassion and its babying of feelings.

Watching Shea age was hard, yes, but it was also just a part of life. Just like us, dogs are not meant to live forever — or longer than they should. Giving her this drug would have just prolonged her pain and delayed my sadness. So, in reality, who is this drug really for? The pet or the owner?

The other issue here is that this drug would not even need to exist if we just took care of our dogs. Most puppies are not even born healthy anymore because they are so unethically bred.

French bulldogs, as a whole breed, are the result of cross-breeding and should not even exist. This is why so many of them suffer from breathing and eyesight problems.

I once knew a French bulldog who had to be put down at the age of two because he was bred so terribly that he could not stop having seizures; and when he wasn’t having one, he was a nightmare of behavioral issues.

But even dogs who are bred ethically suffer at the hands of ignorant owners. Under a post about this new drug, Instagram user @ash.schrock wrote, “Just like us, they need good food, exercise, mental stimulation and healthy supplements. A pill won’t reverse the [e]ffects of lifelong bad food and an [immobile] pup, it’ll just cover up symptoms in the same way they do for humans.”

This could not have been said any better. Many owners do not take their dogs on walks, feed them anything different than normal store-bought kibble or even cut their nails. It is so frustrating, because if you can’t or won’t take care of your dog, then don’t get one. It’s simple.

So many sad dogs are sent to the groomer with nails growing so long they curve or hair so long and dirty it’s matted and needs to be shaved. Why should they be allowed to have access to a drug that would just subject their pet to more of this mistreatment?

That question is technically hypothetical, but there may be an answer: people are selfish, and will do anything to save themselves from having to deal with something difficult. Even at the expense of a pet that has shown them nothing but love.




Featured photo by Amanda Jones