By:  Karin Heineman, Inside Science

(Inside Science TV) – Dogs and cats can suffer from some of the same illnesses as humans such as allergies, cancer and even Alzheimer's disease. Currently pets are often given drugs designed for the human body that may not work the same way in the body of another species.

For example, dogs with allergies are often prescribed the popular allergy drug Allegra. But, the formula was not designed for use by a dog and may not work correctly.

Now, researchers at Kindred Biosciences in Burlingam, California are developing new drugs made just for pets.

“We take drugs that have been demonstrated to be safe and effective for people, and we improve them and develop them for our animal family members," said Richard Chin, co-founder and CEO of Kindred Biosciences.

Determining the right dosage of a human-made drug for pets isn't easy. Dogs, cats and other animals metabolize drugs differently, which can affect how well the drugs work, and their side effects.

“A dose that works on humans may not correlate to a dog, cat or horse, so it’s important to get the right dose, the right formulation for pets," said Denise Bevers, co-founder and chief operating officer of Kindred Biosciences.

The dog version of Allegra is a chewable, beef-flavored pill. To be effective in dogs, it needs seven to eight times more of the active ingredient in Allegra.

“The real benefit to owners of pets is knowing that these drugs have been tested for the right dose and the right formulation for their pets,” said Bevers.

Researchers are currently developing drugs made specifically for pets to treat osteoarthritis, atopic dermatitis – or skin allergy, and a post-operative pain medication.

The drugs are being developed for dogs, cats and horses.

Karin Heineman is the executive producer of Inside Science TV. She has produced over 600 video news segments on science, technology, engineering and math in the past 13 years for Inside Science TV and its predecessor, Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science.

Reprinted with permission from Inside Science, an editorially independent news product of the American Institute of Physics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing, promoting and serving the physical sciences.