Extending Your Dog’s Lifespan Might Be Possible
Scientists at the University of Washington want to find out whether a chemical that extends the lifespans of yeast, fruit flies, worms and mice will have the same effect on dogs.
Although it may be possible to extend the lifespan of dogs, UW molecular biologist Matthew Kaeberlein says we shouldn’t expect anything radical in the beginning.
“We’re not talking about doubling the healthy life spans of pets. But at a minimum, I would predict that you would get a 10 to 15 percent increase in average life span, and I think bigger effects are possible.”
Kaeberlein and Daniel Promislow think that a drug used by transplant patients could have an impact on the longevity of dogs. They received an unrestricted $200,000 grant from the UW to study Rapamycin’s potential effects on the health and lifespan of dogs.
No one can know whether the drug might have similar effects in people, but Rapamycin could be beneficial to dogs, according to University of Alabama Biology Department Chairman Steven Austad, an expert in aging research who is not part of the UW project.
“I think it’s worth a go, not just from what it can teach us about humans, but for the sake of the animals themselves. It may not work in dogs, but if it did, boy, it’s going to be huge.”
Since federal agencies aren’t interested in funding this research, scientists hope ‘citizen science’ could help.
“Given how I feel about my pets, I see this as a unique project where there’s a real potential for citizen science. I think it would be great if pet owners who are really interested in improving the health of their animals would help fund this work.”
Even though the researchers don’t have a funding goal yet, they set up a website, dogagingproject.com, where people can donate and sign up their dogs for possible enrolment in the study.