It turns out we’ve been ageing our dogs totally wrong. One human year does not equal seven dogs years, actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
A new and more accurate method of calculating a dog’s age has come out, by looking at the DNA and how it changes over time. So, how old is your dog? (1)
As crazy as it seems that a puppy is nearly 30 after their first year, the true implication of this study is that our dogs can live a lot longer. Like, a lot longer.
If you think about it, it’s not so surprising that our puppy is actually, a “puppy”, for just a flash in time. Think about it, they are able to sit, stay, come and paw at 8 weeks old.
Dogs age/ develop rapidly at the start of their lives because they have to survive, they don’t have the security that allows for a slow development. But then at around 5 years old, their ageing slows enormously.
It’s why Maggie the Kelpie lived to 30 years old, that’s not 210.
This study was done on Labradors, which comparatively to most breeds, live slightly shorter lives. That is the real significance, that our dog’s aren’t living as long as they should.
How to ensure your dog lives their best, and longest, life possible.
The lifestyles we choose for our dog’s will determine how long they live for. It’s the sum of all the everyday decisions, and in particular, what we put into our dog’s bowl every day, that will decide their length of time on this earth.
We’re going to use human and canine cancer research, a disease that kills half of dogs, as an example of how your choices for will determine how old your dog will live for and what actions mean the most when it comes to ensuring life longevity for your fur baby.
The graph below shows the causalities in the development of cancer. It’s a graph taken from research on human cancers, but canine cancer is a comparative model with humans, we can use this to predict why our dogs are suffering, just as we are. Dogs live in our environment, they eat similar food and are thus exposed to similar risk factors, so the development and reason for the proliferation of canine tumours is likely to be similar to that of human tumours [2,3,4,5,6].
As you can see, cancer is caused by incorrect lifestyle and environment. The fact that only 5–10% of all cancer cases are due to genetic flaws and that the remaining 90–95% are due to environment and lifestyle factor offers major opportunities for preventing cancer and maximising your dog’s life.
Dogs don’t drink, they don’t smoke, but they do eat more processed food than any other species on the planet. Diet is the biggest determinant of health and getting it right is the key to longevity.
Increasing the quality of meals, decrease the quantity of food and moving to one meal a day is the healthiest way to feed your dog.
- G. MacEwen, “Spontaneous tumors in dogs and cats: models for the study of cancer biology and treatment,” Cancer and Metastasis Reviews, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 125–136, 1990.
- M. Vail and E. G. MacEwen, “Spontaneously occurring tumors of companion animals as models for human cancer,” Cancer Investigation, vol. 18, no. 8, pp. 781–792, 2000.
- Khanna,K.Lindblad-Toh,D.Vailetal.,“edogasacancer model,” Nature Biotechnology, vol. 24, no. 9, pp. 1065–1066, 2006.
- S. Pinho, S. Carvalho, J. Cabral, C. A. Reis, and F. Gärt- ner, “Canine tumors: a spontaneous animal model of human carcinogenesis,” Translational Research, vol. 159, no. 3, pp. 165–172, 2012.
- Marconato, M. E. Gelain, and S. Comazzi, “e dog as a possible animal model for human non-Hodgkin lymphoma: a review,” Hematological Oncology. In press.
- Anand, P., Kunnumakara, A.B., Sundaram, C., Harikumar, K.B., Tharakan, S.T., Lai, O.S., Sung, B. and Aggarwal, B.B., 2008. Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes.Pharmaceutical research, 25(9), pp.2097-2116.