Author(s): Graeme Carey
Source: University of California San Diego School of Medicine
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How do you calculate your dog’s age in human years? Multiply by seven, right? Your three-year-old pooch would therefore be a responsible 21-year-old, perhaps getting ready to graduate university. Not quite, says a new study published in Cell Systems, which debunks the popular 1:7 rule of thumb.
By analyzing the changing patterns of methyl groups in 104 Labrador retrievers ranging in age from 0.1 to 16 years old, researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new formula for translating dog years into human years.
They found that, while all mammals go through the same physiological stages—early development, puberty, aging, and death—dogs age much faster than humans earlier on in life, before slowing down once reaching maturity.
Based on their observations, a one-year-old dog would be comparable to a 30-year-old human, while a four-year-old dog would already be well into its middle-aged years at 52. The rate of aging decreases considerably after this point, so that a 12-year-old dog would only be about 70.
You might be asking yourself, why does it even matter what my dog’s genetic age is? A four-year-old dog is still a four-year-old dog, is it not?
For starters, this new formula could help in the evaluation of anti-aging products. As the researchers explain, “Such translation may provide a compelling tool in the quest to understand aging and identify interventions for maximizing healthy lifespan.”
It could also prove useful for veterinarians, many of whom still rely on the 1:7 ratio to determine the proper treatment for a dog given its age.
As dogs get older, their mobility and energy decreases, their eyesight and hearing weakens, and they become more prone to illness and disease. It’s important to notice the signs of aging early on so that you can provide the necessary care to keep them healthy and active for as long as possible.
Here are a few tips to help your dog age gracefully: