The Dog Aging Project

A group of researchers are advocating for clinical trials in household dogs to test methods of gently slowing aging that so far are largely studied in mice only. The high level goal here is to produce more rigorous data in longer-lived mammals, something that is presently lacking. If as a side-effect it helps to raise awareness of the potential to extend healthy human life spans through progress in medical science, then all to the good. At this point the researchers have turned in part to the public and philanthropy to raise funds for the project, and are going about it in a fairly organized way. It is good to see the scientific community developing these skills, as this form of fundraising coupled with greater involvement of donors will become increasingly important in the future:

For millions of people, pets are considered part of the family. Unfortunately, companion animals such as dogs age rapidly and have relatively short life expectancies. Scientists want to change this. Research in the biology of aging has made tremendous strides over the past several years, with a few interventions found capable of slowing aging and extending lifespan in small mammals such as mice and rats. These same interventions could provide dogs with two to five or even more years of additional healthy, youthful life.

The Dog Aging Project is a unique opportunity to advance scientific discovery while simultaneously providing enormous benefit for people and their pets. We believe that enhancing the longevity and healthspan - the healthy period of life - in peoples' pets will have a major impact on our lives. To accomplish this goal, we are creating a network of pet owners, veterinarians, and scientific partners that will facilitate enrolling and monitoring pets in the Project. The Dog Aging Project has two major aims: a longitudinal study of aging in dogs and an intervention trial to prevent disease and extend healthy longevity in middle-aged dogs.

The first phase of this study will enroll middle-aged dogs (6-9 years depending on breed) in a short-term (3-6 month), low-dose rapamycin regimen and follow age-related parameters such as heart function, immune function, activity, body weight, and cognitive measures. These animals will then be followed throughout life to determine whether there are significant improvements in healthy aging and lifespan. The next phase of the study will enroll a second cohort of middle-aged dogs into a longer-term, low-dose rapamycin regimen designed to optimize lifespan extension. As with phase one, several age-related parameters will be assessed before, during, and after the treatment period. Based on the mouse studies, we anticipate that rapamycin could increase healthy lifespan of middle-aged dogs by 2-5 years or more.

We believe that improving healthy lifespan in pet dogs is a worthy goal in and of itself. To be clear, our goal is to extend the period of life in which dogs are healthy, not prolong the already difficult older years. Imagine what you could do with an additional two to five years with your beloved pet in the prime of his or her life. This is within our reach today, with your help.



There is that buzzword health span again, even the NIH has started using it.Being healthy for longer should equate to a longer life anyway but of course they wont come out and say that as its not PC.

Posted by: Steve H at May 1st, 2015 7:57 AM

Steve, I take the term as a necessary evil to dodge the bleating of the usual suspects and nip the Tithonus error in the bud.

You can't increase healthspan without increasing lifespan, and I'm pretty sure every gerontologist using the term knows it.

Posted by: Slicer at May 1st, 2015 3:16 PM

This sounds like a primitive version of robust mouse rejuvenation (RMR). They are only going to use rapamycin to slow aging instead of SENS rejuvenation methods but it seems they will attempt this within the next few years. It will also be performed in higher mammals that are closer to humans. With the advancements in senolytic therapies, perhaps SENS could better this attempt and attract more publicity from dog-lovers and have a potential revenue generator. An article here on Fight Aging talked about cloning polo ponies because of the vast money available to anyone capable of producing winning offspring. How much would dog-lovers be willing to pay for a few more years with their loved one? It could become the robust dog rejuvenation (RDR) project and hasten things a bit. Future iterations could add more SENS methods as they become available.

Posted by: Morpheus at May 1st, 2015 4:31 PM

This is a cool project. As a dog lover I hope the results produce something worthwhile.

Posted by: johnathan at May 1st, 2015 7:50 PM

How long before a rival cat aging project hoves into view?

Posted by: Jim at May 1st, 2015 11:14 PM


Well, a group to watch would be the radical feminists. As a collective they have enough cats to feed Vietnam for the next century. :)))))

Posted by: johnathan at May 2nd, 2015 8:03 AM

All joking aside, there has been much talk about the benefit of providing some concrete results to spur SENS funding. This could be an opportunity due to both the attention paid to dog lifespans, owners' willingness to pay for treatment, and at least one SENS therapy (quercetin and dasatinib as senolytics) nearing readiness for testing. I believe AdG drew a lot of attention with a statement about prolonging fertility in peri-menopausal women. This would be a similar bombshell but on a level that is attainable in the near future. There has been much talk of using glucosepane research for skin repair due to vanity appeal. This would require FDA approval and hence is a longer-term proposition. Why not exploit this oppportunity? Why wait for multiple years until SENS can demonstrate multiple therapies on a mouse while starving for research dollars? Think again of the cloned polo ponies and public eagerness to apply new technology to lower animals. Let's start the Robust Dog Rejuvenation (RDR) project! What do you think, Reason?

Posted by: Morpheus at May 2nd, 2015 12:28 PM

I'm surprised and impressed by how easy it is to share this with others. It's been a struggle to get people I talk to excited about rejuvenation research but I hardly mention the Dog Aging Project and it catches on like wildfire. I think this is a great way to warm up the general public to the idea of human anti-aging research.

Posted by: Corbin at May 2nd, 2015 12:32 PM

A problem with this project is that household dogs live longer than mice. A second problem is that unlike animal studies, dog owners won't want to have their animals killed and then examined for signs of reduced aging. So I don't know if this project has much value to science other than the PR it could generate.

Posted by: Jim at May 3rd, 2015 6:30 AM


Huh? It doesn't have to be complicated. We're looking at about a 5 year gap (can probably start to speculate at 2-3). The average dog lives 10-15 years (breed dependent) and they're starting with 6-9 year old dogs. It's going to be clear whether or not it has a worthy effect within that window just from lifespan comparisons and observation of common things like arthritis, organ failure, and energy levels.

Posted by: johnathan at May 3rd, 2015 8:53 AM

It's a 3 year study with placebo. They are going to use cardiac function (whatever that entails) as the main measure.

Posted by: johnathan at May 3rd, 2015 9:02 AM

@Johnathan - studying the effects of a treatment on middle aged dogs for 3 years does actually sound a bit more useful.

Posted by: Jim at May 3rd, 2015 10:35 AM
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