Talking Science and Dogs: An Interview with Canine Biologics Founder, Jeff Sutherland

Canine Biologics Founder and CEO, Jeff Sutherland, recently sat down for an interview on the podcast Molecular Moments to talk science and dogs. Here are several highlights of what Jeff shared with Dr. Chad Briscoe about how his dedication to science and love of dogs came together as Canine Biologics. 

Can you start with telling us a little about your background?

I have been a dog lover all my life, as far back as I can remember. When I was a boy, I would cross the street to say hello to a dog if I had the chance – and I still do!. It's always been that way with me, even though I got nipped when I was five years old. Thankfully, that didn't leave a lasting negative impression. 

Having been a dog lover all my life, I have had dogs most of my life. After owning a company called Deserving Dog, which made restaurant-quality food for dogs that was home delivered, I saw the remarkable improvement that many dogs had on a diet like that versus the kibble that they had been eating.

I refocused my efforts on dogs with cancer. I ran into a veterinarian, an oncologist, and we got to talking about the effects of nutrition on canine cancer. I was at a tipping point with the other company, deciding whether to grow it or not. Instead, I decided to go after nutrition for dogs that have cancer with all my energy. 

Have you done nutritional therapy for your own dog?

Canine Biologics Founder Jeff Sutherland: I came back to the United States after spending five years in New Zealand with my five-year-old dog. She had had lots and lots of GI problems, very, very severe GI problems. I had tried a lot of "premium" dog food in various forms. 

One night she got so sick I thought I was going to lose her. I took her to the vet the next morning, and the vet did very little but sold me a bag of Hill's Science Diet, which turned out to be not what I hoped it would be. 

I turned to the Internet, thinking maybe I could do better. I found what I thought would be trusted sources for information, got some recipes, and started cooking for her.

She had had daily problems for five years or so. And within 24 hours of cooking real food for her, her symptoms cleared up. This was over 10 years ago, and they have never come back.

My dog was my inspiration for Deserving Dog (the forerunner of Canine Biologics). Owners started telling me that their dogs' health problems cleared up, that their coats got better, and in many cases their behavior got better — something I hadn't expected.

Tell me the Canine Biologics story. I want to understand the founding and why you focus on oncology, and where that's gone today.

Canine Biologics Founder Jeff Sutherland: We focused on cancer for a couple of reasons. One, it's a horrible disease. It's very widely spread. In North America, primarily in the United States and Canada, there are about 500,000 dogs a month diagnosed with cancer. If a dog reaches 10 years of age, it has a 50% chance of developing cancer. It's the leading "natural" cause of death in dogs over two. It's a very big problem.

Having seen what good nutrition can do for some other conditions and knowing that some of the big companies target other conditions, just not canine cancer, I thought, "Let's do something for those poor animals that are battling cancer."

No one else was taking on this space. We not only took this space on, but we developed a very novel approach in several ways to address the needs of dogs that are fighting this disease. We don't just make high-quality food that is high in fat and protein, although it is, we take a few additional steps.

We keep our components separate until time of feeding. If you take a bag of kibble, it has everything in that bag that your dog theoretically needs. All the vitamins and minerals are premixed into it. Then it sits on a shelf for as long as two years.

There is oxidation and degradation particularly of the B complex vitamins. Some of the fats will tend to get rancid and oxidize over time.

What we do is to provide pet parents with human-grade food and supplements for dogs. One component of our system is food, which has five ingredients, nothing else. The second is oil, which is a wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil that has gone through molecular distillation to remove virtually all contaminants and heavy metals, making it the best salmon oil for dogs. The third is supplements. We provide not just the normal supplements of complete vitamins and minerals, but also targeted supplements based on tumor type.

Our mix right now is looking to help with the symptoms of lymphoma and cancer in general, but as we expand our product line we will provide more specific nutritional support for dogs with osteosarcoma, mast cell tumors, and altogether five kinds of cancer.