More dogs needed for project to improve dog lifespan – American Kennel Club
A short-legged, long-tailed dog greeted 12-year-old Jinnie Strickland when she got off the school bus.
She had never seen it before, but the little dog wiggled and jumped and acted like she was her long-lost friend. He followed her home and stayed.
“I studied the Book of Dogs and decided he was a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Eventually we found his owners, but he didn’t want to stay home so they gave him to me,” Strickland said “I’ve had wonderful memories of him all my life.”
As an adult, she wanted a dog that could do dog sports, but that she could keep up with, and thought of her childhood buddy.
“I found my first CWC and haven’t looked back. Cardigans are a breed that fits my lifestyle.
The Georgia resident has owned, bred and exhibited Cardigan Welsh Corgis for over 20 years. She is dedicated to maintaining the temperament and health of the herding breed that captured her heart in her youth.
When she lost a beloved cardigan at age 14 to canine cognitive dysfunction, she wanted to do even more.
She volunteered to participate in the Dog Aging Project – a national study aimed at improving the longevity of all dogs. “When I heard about the project, I knew I wanted to help. They were looking for young dogs from the South East for the study, so I nominated my youngster and he was accepted into the program.
The goal of the Dog Aging Project is to understand how genes, lifestyle and environment influence aging. The study brings together a community of dogs, owners, veterinarians, researchers and volunteers.
“The Dog Aging Project has captured the imagination of dog owners around the world. Not just because the project’s findings could lead to more time with our beloved pets, but because what we learn will also be directly transferable to human health. Ultimately, this will lead to longer, healthier lives for humans and their canine companions,” said Dr. Audrey Ruple DVM, MS, PhD, associate professor at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech.
Ruple is part of the Dog Aging Research Team, which includes representatives from 28 universities around the world.
As of mid-March, there were 35,000 volunteers in the Dog Aging Project Pack, who regularly report on the health, lifestyle and care of their dogs.
But more dogs are needed, Ruple said. The team is particularly interested in studying more intact dogs, large dogs, and dogs that live in the central and southern United States.
“All dogs are welcome: any size, breed, age and health condition! However, we can learn the most from dogs registered as puppies, ideally before they are spayed or spayed” “We can only register one dog per household, so it’s especially helpful for the owner to name the dog they know best,” Ruple said.
To contribute to the project, you can nominate a dog by going to dogagingproject.org and clicking Nominate Your Dog. You create a personal online portal and then receive an email invitation to complete the health and life experience survey.
The survey is in-depth and covers many topics including demographics, environment, behavior, diet, medications, and more. The survey is long, but you can take your time and complete it in sections, as long as it is submitted within six weeks. Participants are also encouraged to upload veterinary records for their dogs, and members of the project team can assist them if needed.
Strickland named her Cardigan, now almost 2 years old, with the official name Solstice Jalapeno Popper BCAT SCN SIN IT RATI, known to all as JeffJeff.
“He’s a very social dog and always ready to have fun. He’s young and just getting into dog sports, but he competes in AKC Scent Work, Fast CAT and Barn Hunt. He’s also got his AKC certificate Herding Instinct.
Participating in the project was easy and fun because it allows you to connect with other dog lovers across the country, Strickland said.
“The project has everything planned out to make it easy to do, and you’re updating as information becomes available,” she said. “The project team is easy to work with. They even have an area on their website called Dog Park where pack members can interact with each other and share their dogs. JeffJeff is pack member #36,017.”
The Dog Aging Project began to form in 2007 when Dr. Daniel Promislow of the University of Washington and Dr. Kate Creevy DVM of Texas A&M University collaborated on a study of causes of death in companion dogs. In 2013, they joined forces with Dr. Matt Kaeberlein PhD from the University of Washington, and the collaboration began in earnest.
In 2018, the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institute on Health, funded his grant proposal for the Dog Aging Project. Creevy is now the project’s chief veterinarian, and Promislaw and Kaeberlein are co-directors.
“When the Dog Aging Project launched in November 2019, the response exceeded our wildest expectations. In one week, the project grew from 4,000 nominations to over 70,000, and we are now at over 92,000 Ruple said. “Thousands of outlets have covered the project, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and NBC Nightly News.”
The project’s work is centered on two objectives: to understand how biology, lifestyle and environment influence aging and to intervene to increase lifetime, the period of life spent without disease. Currently, there are five major research streams:
- Defining frailty and successful aging in dogs.Unlike humans, there are no clearly defined parameters for determining how much a dog ages, no canine equivalent of the chair support test or grip strength, or predefined ranges by age for clinical chemistry measurements. To fill this gap, they are developing new metrics of canine aging, which will serve as the basis for a new veterinary specialty: canine gerontology.
- Genetic analysis of aging in dogs. Genome sequence data from the 10,000 canine participants are integrated with health measures and behavioral traits to conduct comprehensive genome-wide association studies.
- Systems biology of healthy aging in dogs. Identify molecular biological predictors of disease and longevity and develop a epigenetic clockwhich predicts the biological age of dogs.
- TRIAD—Rapamycin Intervention Study. Conduct a large-scale trial of FDA-approved products rapamycin, a drug that increases lifespan and delays the negative effects of aging in mice. They are testing the drug’s effects on cognitive function, heart function, immunity and cancer incidence in 500 middle-aged dogs.
- Canine Cognitive Health. To monitor the cognitive health of aging dogs through a variety of cognitive assessments as well as physiological and structural measures of brain health to understand the progression and correlates of canine cognitive dysfunction.
“Out of the Pack, we invite subsets of dogs to participate in more in-depth studies, such as the Genetic Study, TRIAD or Brain Health Study. We will select dogs to ensure variation, at the both genetically and geographically, and we will be looking for owners who are willing and able to participate in various research activities,” Ruple said.
“If a dog is invited to participate in an additional study, we give owners all the information they need to make an informed decision about whether or not to participate. If they don’t want to, that’s fine; they remain valued members of the Pack and will have the opportunity to participate in other activities in the future. “
Strickland said she encourages all dog lovers to contribute to the study in any way they can, Strickland said.
“If it helps our animals live longer, why not you? I want them to live forever and even if eternity is just a few more years, I will take it.
To join the project team, contact [email protected]
More information is available at:
Website & Blog: https://dogagingproject.org/stories/
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