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What is the Dog Aging Project?

Q: My golden retriever is participating in the Morris Animal Foundation's Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. It's extremely rewarding to take part in this research to advance medical knowledge about goldens. Is there a similar study for my 5-year-old mutt, Trudy?

A: Consider enrolling Trudy in the Dog Aging Project sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. This study is enrolling 10,000 dogs of all ages and breeds, including mixed-breed dogs, to learn how genes, environment and lifestyle influence aging.

Each household may enroll one dog. You'll complete online surveys and take Trudy to her regular veterinarian at least once a year. Your survey information and Trudy's veterinary records, including lab results, will be collected and evaluated throughout her life.

A small group of dogs in the study will receive low doses of rapamycin, a medication used in humans at higher doses to battle cancer and prevent rejection of transplanted organs. Mice treated with low doses of rapamycin live longer, healthier lives, and this research will help determine whether the medication can do the same for dogs.

The Dog Aging Project is open only to dogs in the US. Similar research is being conducted on a worldwide scale by the team at Darwin's Ark, which welcomes all dogs in the family, whether purebred or mixed-breed. Darwin's Ark focuses on understanding how genes control a dog's behavior, appearance and health.

To find out more information, or to enroll in the projects visit:          

Note: You can also use the links to donate to both of these important research projects.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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