7 Years = 1 Dog Year? New Research Says That’s Not Right
Scientists have found that dogs age more quickly than we’ve previously given credit for, and that the seven-human-years to one-dog-year ratio may not be accurate.
New research from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine shows that dogs and humans don’t age at the same rate, but that the old ‘multiply the dog’s age by 7’ method of coming up with ‘human years’ equivalency may not be accurate.
The research, published in the Cell Systems journal claims the 7:1 ratio just isn’t accurate. The researchers have instead developed a new formula that looks at the variance of dogs in their molecular structure. They tracked the molecular changes in the DNA of the lovable Labrador Retrievers. They also looked at their methyl groups pattern changes in their genomes.
They found that dogs age at a much faster rate than humans do in their early years, and then they slow down in their aging after reaching maturity. Trey Ideker is the lead author of the study. He said that they’ve always known the 1:7 ratio wasn’t accurate since 9-month-old dogs could have puppies.
The study suggests that a 1-year-old dog would be comparable to a 30-year-old human. After the dogs turn 7-years-old, the rate of aging decreases. The researchers said that their formula is the first that is transferable across species, and they plan to test findings on other dog breeds to look at the impact of their findings. They believe that looking at the methylation patterns before and after implementing anti-aging products could help veterinarians when they’re making diagnostics and treatments decisions.
Using methylation as a way to measure age is sort of a new epigentic clock. Ideker likens it to the same way that you may look at wrinkles on a face. It’s not a perfect method, he admits, but says that it’s a more accurate improvement than the 7:1 ratio. Considering that dogs live with us and are exposed to the same environmental conditions as we are, better understanding their aging process will help offer more options for treating them and helping them be as healthy as they can be.