So far, to get an idea of the age of a dog in human years The usual thing was to multiply by seven. In this way, we had the illusion of knowing in what state of vital maturity our pet was. If he was still a youth asset or if he was already beginning to enter the quiet old age. A simple popular entertainment because the formula is completely discredited. A group of researchers from the University of California in San Diego (USA) proposes a much tighter new one, which takes into account the latest research on aging and gives us more of a surprise.
The work, published in the bioRxiv prepress file, takes into account that the chemical modifications of a person’s DNA throughout life create what is known as a epigenetic clock. One such modification, the addition of methyl groups to specific DNA sequences, tracks the human biological age, that is, the cost that disease, bad lifestyle and genetics have on our bodies. As a result, there are those who consider a person’s DNA methylation status in an age estimate, or even a prediction of life expectancy.
Other species, including dogs, also have epigenetic clocks. In addition, dogs live in the same environments as us and many receive similar medical treatments and care.
As they explain on the website of the journal «Science», all dogs, regardless of breed, follow a similar development path, reach puberty around 10 months and die before 20 years. But in his study, geneticist Trey Ideker and his team focused on a single race: the labrador retriever.
The researchers scanned DNA methylation patterns in the genomes of 104 dogs, ranging from 4 weeks to 16 years. Their analysis revealed that these dogs and humans have similar age-related methylation of certain genomic regions with high mutation rates, more evident in youth and old age. In addition, they found that certain groups of genes involved in development are similarly methylated during aging in both species. That suggests that at least some aspects of aging are a continuation of development rather than a different process, and that at least some of these changes are evolutionarily conserved in mammals. That is, both species not only have the same diseases and ailments during aging, but the molecular changes are similar.
In this way, the team proposes this formula to know the age of a dog in human years = 16 In (age of the dog) + 31.
That is, you have to multiply the natural logarithm of your dog’s age in years (Here you have a calculator) by 16 and then add 31. The result will give us the equivalent of the dog’s age in human years.
Using that formula, a 7-week-old puppy would be equivalent to a 9-month-old human baby, but with one year he would already be a 31-year-old adult! And with four it would be equivalent to a 53-year-old person. In general, the canine epigenetic clock works much faster initially than the human, but then slows down. In this way, a 15-year-old dog would be equivalent to a 74-year-old human being.
Researchers hope to find out why some dogs get sick very soon or die earlier than normal, while others live long disease-free lives.
As different races age differently, this formula may not be very accurate for everyone, but it will always be more useful than multiplying by seven.