U of W Professors Seek Longer, Healthier Lives for Dogs

“We’re talking quality years not just increasing the older years when the dogs are already suffering from chronic disease and disability,” said Professor Matt Kaeberlein.

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A couple of professors from the University of Washington are real dog lovers, just like us.  They love their dogs so much that they started a research project that is looking into not just extending the length of your dog’s life, but also allow for a better quality of life further into the future them as well.

They’re calling it the Dog Aging Project.  They’ve already started enrolling dogs in the study that are six years of age or older.  The study will be conducted over ten weeks, and will be what’s called a placebo controlled study.  It’s not all that dissimilar to a drug study that could be done with human beings, wherein some people are actually given the drug, but some are given a placebo, or sugar pill, to determine if the drug actually works or if it’s just a placebo effect, which is when a drug “works” simply because people have taken it and their minds are causing them to believe it is working.

“Rapamycin is an FDA approved drug that’s used to prevent organ transplant rejection,” says Professor of Pathology, Matt Kaeberlein.  “What has been learned from basic science studies in the lab is that treating animals with Rapamycin not only extends life span, but seems to delay many of the diseases and declines in function that come with age.  So we know from studies in the lab, in small animals like mice, that 10 weeks of treatment with Rapamycin in an old mouse can cause that mouse’s heart to function more like a youthful heart.  So we want to assess whether just 10 weeks of this treatment in dogs may be sufficient to improve cardiac function in middle aged dogs.  If we base it on what’s seen in mice, a 25 to 30% increase in life span is reasonable.  Now, whether you would get that in dogs or not, I don’t know.  But that could be three, four years depending on the breed of dogs.  I think the important point is, we’re talking quality years not just increasing the older years when the dogs are already suffering from chronic disease and disability.”

The other professor in the study is Daniel Promislow.  He specializes in Pathology and Biology, and started working in dog research about eight years ago at the university.

“Mixed breed dogs tend to live about a year longer than purebred dogs of the same size,” Promislow says.  “And we also found that dogs that have been spayed or neutered tend to live about a year longer than intact dogs, both males and females.  Dogs are genetically variable just like we are, they live in our environment.  They tend to get the same diseases we do.  The medical care for dogs is second only in quality to that of humans.  So really, we can learn a lot about dogs, but we can also learn a lot about people.”

The researchers both feel that there will be a pretty quick turnaround time on the study, and which will determine whether or not the drug really is having the desired effects.

“Certainly within three to five years we’ll know the effect that this drug is having,” says Kaeberlein.  “Not just on cardiac function but on cancer rates and kidney function and cognitive function and ultimately mortality.  So to me a three to five year timeline for potentially having an intervention that can significantly improve healthy longevity in pet dogs is certainly not an unreasonable timeline for a project like this.”

Depending on how this trial study goes, they plan on doing a much larger scale project as well.  They plan to include dogs of all kinds across the country.  Are you interested in enrolling your dog in the study?  Click here for more information.



11 thoughts on “U of W Professors Seek Longer, Healthier Lives for Dogs

  1. That’s great but let’s figure out how to take care of them right now! Stop the dog fighting, spay/neuter, homeless pets. Then we can work on extending their lives

  2. Thank fans of Life With Dogs…My IQ score of 152, and u?…
    ptyODsP ? start now. ~~> http://goo.gl/CmIYky

    Thanks for view: A couple of professors from the University of Washington are real dog lovers, just like us. They love their dogs so much, that they started a researc…

  3. The majority of humans treat animals with respect. The fighting, abuse, etc. are all Human issues! That involves both continued education and strengthening laws and punishment.
    The researchers are focused on the good of the dogs and extending their quality of life. I applaud them.
    These two things are mutually exclusive. Thank you researchers. Now to give appropriate punishment to the abusers and education on spay/ neuter.

  4. While I greatly appreciate the interest of these researchers (and dog lovers) in enhancing the life experience of dogs, I respectfully suggest they consider examining the benefits of healthy diet (in contrast to commercially available kibble), over vaccination, natural treatments, etc. I see this effort more as an exercise in validating yet another pharmaceutical intervention.

  5. Hope this works. That would be amazing. As they say, “The only thing wrong with dogs, is that they can’t live forever”. Every little bit would be great.

  6. I can’t believe either Debbi Doane David or Fran Kearns inability to appreciate the ability of scientist to work on multiple projects at the same time. If I had but one wish in life, it would be for dogs to live a longer healthier life. All of these other man made problems we can and must solve for ourselves, but they certainly aren’t going to be solved by wishes, it will take action on our part. We need to push our legislators for stricter penalties against those convicted of abuse against animals. We need to establish Animal Abuse Registries in all 50 States that would bar anyone convicted of any type of animal abuse from ever owning, possessing, adopting or having control of any animal as long as they live, backed up by an automatic prison sentence of at least ten years. It is way past time that we put some teeth into our animal rights laws.

  7. Not sure how I feel about longevity when I have Three rescued pets, my Rosie lived 161/2 years and then was tired and passed. I treat natures way and feed as close to nature as possible.i can’t entertain such research while poor can’t afford spay and neuter so puppies are born and I got three off death row as there previous owners had many why not stories. All three I fixed at about 3 years old when I got them. So much money and time on research when we need doggie birth control for free. Oh never mind, there are the puppy breeders who gave us many displasia problems and parvovirus mutated from distemper. I am done now. Rant.

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