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Rapamycin for dogs

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The basics

Rapamycin for Dogs–The Background



Rapamycin was shown in 2009 to significantly extend the lifespan and delay aging of mice.  In fact, it appears that rapamycin will extend the lifespans of every organism, from yeast to insects to marmosets, in which it has been studied.

Rapamycin has also been shown to improve a variety of age-associated conditions in mice, including

– reducing cancer incidence (Anisimov et al. ),

– improving cognitive function (Halloran et al. ; Majumder et al. ),

–  reversing cardiac aging (Dai et al. ; Flynn et al. ; Neff et al. )

– reversing immune system declines. (Chen et  al. )

– restoring stem cell function (Chen et al. ; Yilmaz et al. ), and

–  improving muscle function (Bitto et al. ; Fischer et al. ) in aged animals.

– increasing life expectancy from 20-60% following transient single treatments. (Bitto, 2016)


Here’s Something Else:   The benefits of beginning rapamycin therapy  in old age appear comparable to the benefits of rapamycin given at a younger age, which is a great thing for us lovers of older dogs. (Harrison et al. ),



    Rapamycin for dogs

    The Kaeberlin study

    Rapamycin for Dogs–The Excitement


    The recent Kaeberlin study on 24 companion dogs at UW showed that….

    1. a) Rapamycin  significantly improved heart function—in particular, left ventricular function during both diastolic and systolic cardiac function during a 10 week study, and that the improvement was greatest in those patients with more severe heart disease.  Their comment was …. “Our results thus indicate that pharmacological inhibition of mTOR in older dogs likely has effects on heart function that are consistent with a reversal of age-related functional changes.”  Which is pretty impressive!!
    2. b) created no significant laboratory change associated with the 10 week administration of rapamycin at doses of either 0.05 or 0.1 mg per kg doses given orally 3x a week. What this means is that there were no apparent safety issues during rapamycin therapy.
    3. c) 70% of the owners whose dogs received the higher rapamycin dose reported that their dog displayed increased activity and energy, as did 40% of those whose dogs received the lower dose, compared to 25% (2/8) of owners whose dogs received the placebo.
    4. d) Similarly, 20% of owners in the high rapamycin group and 40% of owners in the low rapamycin group reported that their dogs’ behavior changed in a way they interpreted as more affectionate, while none of the owners in the placebo group reported this behavioral change. If such an effect can be confirmed in a future larger scale trial, one possible explanation could be the anti-inflammatory effects of rapamycin reducing pain associated with arthritis.
    Rapamycin for dogs

    challenge #1

    Rapamycin for Dogs — Safety and Side Effects

    High dose RM treatment in humans creates a number of adverse side effects, ranging from mouth inflammation to high blood sugar/lipids, low platelets, and impaired wound healing.  Because of its immune suppressive properties, it also impairs our response to infections.


    challenge #2

    Rapamycin for Dogs — Dosing

    With studies suggesting that…

    • even one dose or short term therapy may improve our pets’ cardiac function and healthspan
    • single- or short term therapy will have fewer side effects than chronic treatment

                                    … where do we go from here?

    One mouse study shows injections of 2 mg/kg every 5 days appears to create the optimal balance of benefits versus side effects;

    The Kaeberlin study used 0.05 mg/kg and 0.1 mg/kg given orally 3x a week appeared safe and also improved cardiac function at doses of 0.05 mg/kg and 0.1 mg/kg given orally 3x weekly for 3 weeks.

    The most frustrating part?  We may not have this answer for decades.

    Rapamycin for dogs

    Studies have shown that RM binds to its receptor mTOR to inhibit two different protein complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2.  In test tubes, mTORC1 forms quickly when exposed to RM, whereas mTORC2 forms more slowly over a period of time.

    In the past few years, it has become obvious that the BENEFITS of extended lifespan and aging delay are due to inhibiting the quick-forming mTORC1, and that most of the NEGATIVE side effects are due to inhibiting the more slowly-forming mTORC2.

    This would suggest that single- or short term dosing with rapamycin, which inhibits mTORC1, would offer more benefits and less risk than chronic dosing of rapamycin and resultant inhibition of mTORC2

    Rapamycin for Dogs — What do YOU Think?

    This is, interestingly, a controversial question.  Some folks are passionately against trying to alter lifespan with human technology such as a drug, for philosophical or religious reasons.

    My own bias is that I LOVE MY PETS, and will do whatever it takes to extend their HEALTHSPAN… which is not to say their lifespan.  And if I am going to go down, I’m going to go down swinging.  So count me in.

    In honesty, I wish that I had done this research in time to treat my little pal Phoebe’s heart condition… because I would have done so without a second thought.  I loved her and I lost her, like many Cavaliers, to heart disease.  I’d take a do-over in the proverbial heartbeat.

    I’d welcome your opinion.  Get in touch with me here.

    want rapamycin for your dog??

    we can get it for you.

    rapamycin for dogs

    You're not alone. Let's Talk.


    Kevin Toman, DVM


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