Their study has lead to a new formula that can be used in place of multiplying by seven

By Claudia Harmata
November 19, 2019 04:21 PM
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Researchers are saying that they’ve found a more accurate way to calculate a dog’s age — but it’s not as simple as multiplying your dog’s age by seven.

In a new study published on Nov. 4, scientists outlined their findings after they compared the “common epigenetic changes” — or evolutionary changes — in humans and dogs by measuring the accumulation of methyl groups in DNA molecules over time.

This process of adding methyl groups to DNA is called methylation, and is said to be linked to biological development and growth.

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“Comparison with human methylomes reveals a nonlinear relationship which translates dog to human years, aligns the timing of major physiological milestones between the two species, and extends to mice,” the study read. “These results establish methylation not only as a diagnostic age readout but as a cross-species translator of physiological aging milestones.”

Labrador retrievers
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Over the course of the study, researchers looked at 104 Labrador retrievers who spanned 16 years in age, and tried to match their methylation profiles to that of 320 humans and 133 mice.

Their results created this formula, which they believe is the most accurate way to find a dog’s age: Human age = 16ln(dog_age) + 31.

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The formula essentially asks you to take the natural log of your dog’s age in human years, then multiply it by 16 before adding 31. Your result should yield your dog’s real age.

For example: If a dog is 3 years old, the natural log of 3 is 1.0986 (the decimals continue). After multiplying that number by 16 and adding 31, one will find that the dog is a comparable 48 1/2 years old to humans. There’s a conversion tool available, for those who want to skip the formula.

While the new formula is promising, researchers stress that because they only looked at Labrador retrievers, it may not be as accurate for other dog breeds who may age at different rates.

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