Scientists Develop New Dog Aging Calculator

Does one dog year really equal seven human years?  This long-held belief is undergoing some high-tech revision.

Scientists say a more accurate way to measure an animal’s age is to use something called an epigenetic clock—the accumulation of chemical modifications in an animal’s DNA over its lifespan.

One particular modification known as methylation is especially useful in tracking biological age.  DNA methylation has been used on humans and other animals, including mice, chimpanzees, and dogs.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have specialized in DNA methylation in dogs.  The researchers at UC San Diego studied over 100 Labrador Retrievers and found that their DNA methylation is somewhat similar to humans.

They also came up with an updated dog aging calculator, which shows that a dog’s “human age” can be calculated with a logarithm that multiplies a dog’s real age by 16, and then adds 31 to the total.

You can try the calculator HERE.

What does this new analysis of dog age mean?  Most dogs reach puberty at 10 months and live up to but not beyond 20 years.

The researchers found that a 7 week old puppy is roughly equivalent to a 9 month old human baby.  A 12 year old dog is roughly the same as a 70 year old human.

The researchers found that the canine epigenetic clock runs at a fast rate when a dog is young, then slows down somewhat as the dog grows older.

Scientists are hoping to apply DNA methylation to the study of how different dog breeds age, and also how certain diseases impact the various breeds.

 

New Study Examines the Health of Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the United States for many years.  We love this kind, gentle, and loving dog…but like any purebred dog, the Lab does have some inherited health issues that all owners should know about.

A recent study of Labs in the UK took a look at the most common health and well-being issues of this popular dog.  What are the key findings?

61.6% of all Labs in the study had at least one known health disorder.  Here are the most common:

  • Otitis externa (ear canal inflammation and infection)
  • Obesity (particularly among neutered males)
  • Degenerative joint disease (hip and elbow dysplasia)

Interestingly, some of the conditions were found to be more closely associated with coat color than others.  For example, chocolate colored Labs were more likely to have both otitis externa and a skin condition called pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spots).

The average lifespan of all Labs is around 12 years, but chocolate Labs had shorter lifespans.  The two most common causes of death in Labs are musculoskeletal disorders and cancer.

The researchers suspect that the link between chocolate color and illness/mortality might be due to an increased number of genetic diseases contained in a more limited gene pool.

If you’re interested in a Labrador Retriever as your next pet, be sure to work only with a reputable breeder (or rescue organization) who health tests their dogs for inherited health problems.

For more information on health testing, check out the website of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.

 

Meet Jake!

Image

Meet Jake!

Meet Jake! This adorable Lab got into the trash and swallowed a corn cob he shouldn’t have. It ended up making Jake terribly sick, and he needed surgery to remove it fast otherwise it could have been fatal. Jake’s mom was so saddened when she found out how much this emergency treatment would cost. A single unemployed woman, the sudden cost of the surgery was not something she could handle financially. She had previously adopted Jake from a service dog group who couldn’t use him in their program because he was a little too excitable, but she loved that about him. She couldn’t imagine having to put him down because she couldn’t afford the surgery. Thankfully, Veterinary Specialty Hospital of North County talked to her about FACE, who with their help was able to assist with Jake’s life-saving surgery. Special thanks to the Woltman Family for helping to save Jake.