© 2023 MJH Life Sciences™ and dvm360 | Veterinary News, Veterinarian Insights, Medicine, Pet Care. All rights reserved.
Humans and pets: We share more than a household
The case for an increased focus on research at the overlapping boundaries between human and animal health in the area of heart disease.
Humans and their pets are more similar than we may realize. We both eat, communicate, sleep, and think. Our pets are deeply emotional creatures and form strong bonds with us. We share the same household, and we also share similar health conditions and medications. One of these conditions is heart disease.1
The heart is one of the most important organs in a body. It pumps blood throughout the body and supplies our tissues with oxygen and nutrients. Heart disease—a variety of conditions that affect the heart's structure and function—is the number one cause of death In America.1
In the October 2021 issue of Open Veterinary Journal, researchers evaluated the use of hydrochlorothiazide in mitral insufficiency. Mitral insufficiency occurs when the mitral valve doesn’t close properly, allowing blood to flow backwards in the heart. Common in dogs, it is usually treated with diuretics. Over time, people and dogs alike can become resistant to the diuretic effect and need different medications. Researchers from Japan found that hydrochlorothiazide can be a beneficial addition to loop diuretics in dogs with advanced mitral insufficiency.
Since no large-scale studies have evaluated thiazide diuretics in heart failure, veterinarians must use their clinical judgment to decide a dose. This combination of diuretics reduced cardiac stress, but it also reduced kidney function.2 Felines treated with loop diuretics for heart disease are also likely to develop renal insufficiency or renal failure.2
Heart disease has become more prevalent in both humans and animals due to increased life expectancy. In the article, “Dog Models of Aging,” researchers from the US outline similarities and differences between humans and dogs in aging and age-related diseases.4
This article is packed with fascinating points about the various impacts on aging and age-related diseases. For example3:
- Researchers study certain breeds closely due to their high risk of developing a particular disease. Bernese mountain dogs are used in cancer studies because they are 10 times more likely than other dog breeds to die of cancer.
- The physical environment also impacts aging and age-related diseases. Smoking tobacco and exposure to tobacco smoke have negative consequences on not only humans, but canines as well. Dogs that lived in smoky environments were found to have upper and lower airway disease, lymphomas, and lung cancer.
- Beagles studied in the laboratory were found to display age-related declines in cognitive processes similar to humans.
- Dogs are used as models of disease for human aging and age-related diseases because dogs share more of their genomic sequence with humans than rodents do.
Heart disease can cause acute or chronic pain depending on the type of heart disease and the symptoms. Like humans, pets also need analgesia or pain relief. Researchers from Mexico evaluated the use of tramadol versus tapentadol in acute and chronic pain. The results concluded that tramadol should be part of a multimodal approach to analgesia for both species, whereas tapentadol’s effectiveness should be clarified in further research.4
Because humans share similar disease states and medications with pets, researchers should continue to learn from them as animal models. Further research should be conducted evaluating how to properly use medication to treat conditions such as heart disease, so veterinarians have clear guidelines instead of having to use clinical judgment for each case.
Isabella L Bean is a 2022 PharmD Candidate at the University of Connecticut.
- Iwanaga K, Araki R, Isaka M. A retrospective study of 14 dogs with advanced heart failure treated with loop diuretics and hydrochlorothiazide. Open Vet J. 2021;11(3):342-345. doi:10.5455/OVJ.2021.v11.i3.2
- Kittleson MD, Côté E. The Feline Cardiomyopathies: 1. General concepts. J Feline Med Surg. 2021;23(11):1009-1027. doi:10.1177/1098612X211021819
- Ruple A, MacLean E, Snyder-Mackler N, Creevy KE, Promislow D. Dog Models of Aging [published online ahead of print, 2021 Oct 26]. Annu Rev Anim Biosci. 2021;10.1146/annurev-animal-051021-080937. doi:10.1146/annurev-animal-051021-080937
- Domínguez-Oliva A, Casas-Alvarado A, Miranda-Cortés AE, Hernández-Avalos I. Clinical pharmacology of tramadol and tapentadol, and their therapeutic efficacy in different models of acute and chronic pain in dogs and cats. J Adv Vet Anim Res 2021; 8(3):404–422.