A Dog’s Life

photo by ukpicker on freeimages.com

photo by ukpicker on freeimages.com

Although it’s not accurate that for every human year a dog ages 7 years (that’s just the puppy years and it varies by breed), our best friends have much shorter lifespans than we do. Yet they share some of our aging-related diseases like heart disease and cancer. Is it possible a compound that has lengthened the lives of yeast, mice, fruit flies and worms could lengthen a dog’s life, or health, span?

That compound is rapamycin and it’s been known to prevent some diseases and processes of aging and restore youthful vigor to older lab animals. Average lifespans for these animals have been extended by 9-40%. It seems to work by causing cells to grow more slowly, which repels cancer, and reducing inflammation which seems to boost heart health.

Human trials are unlikely, it would take a lot of time and money, but there may be a way to test rapamycin for eventual human use and benefit dog owners. A new study is in the works, but funding might be hard to find since the research is not directly related to human health, and rapamaycin is no longer under patent, so drug companies do not stand to benefit.

Instead, researchers hope to use citizen science, more specifically, dog lover science. At dogagingproject.com you can donate to the cause and even volunteer your dog for possible inclusion. The website stresses the study is not meant to prolong the dog’s life during the painful years of deterioration, the compound is thought to slow the aging process so the dog has more good years.

I’ve had family pets in the past. I would be interested in a study for scientific reasons and it would love my older dogs to have better health longer. Yet if there were side-effects I would feel horrible.

If you are a dog owner, is it worth a try?

If you could, would you make your pet immortal, or at least have it live as long as you do?

Next week, I’ll talk about cloning, a type of immortality for your pet, and if it’s even possible

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