A Longer Life For Your Pet?

Our pets only get more beautiful, and dignified with age.  Behind those white muzzles are years of loyalty, companionship, and wisdom. We rely on them to teach the youngsters the ropes, and they understand us better than we do ourselves.  Their only flaw is that their lifespans aren't nearly long enough.  Why can an elephant live to be seventy yet, the average age of a large breed dog is only about ten?  On the flip side smaller breeds such as Yorkshire terriers can live well into their teens.  Regardless of size or life span, what if there were a drug that could extend the years, and quality of life of your pet? 

The Dog Aging Project underway at  the University of Washington, has found the drug rapamycin used on human organ transplant, and cancer patients, to extend the life span of mice according to a study done in 2009.  A current trial being performed on dogs 6-9 years old, will show whether this medication would indeed allow them to live around 4-5 years longer, and the affect it will have on overall physical health. 

No results have been reported as of yet, but some are asking whether this is up there with genetic engineering? Scientists are not looking to prolong life for already ailing animals, but to hopefully extend the life for healthy dogs, and cats. Although pets are living longer than ever thanks to premium diets, and supplements, the thought of improving quality of life for a few more years sounds wonderful. It will be interesting to see how this drug will affect the health of these dogs, and how expensive this will be for the average pet owner to get their hands on.  I expect it it to be somewhat controversial for those who feel it to interfere with the natural cycle of life, but as I watch my beloved nine year old boy sleeping at my feet,  I ask myself If I could have more time with him would I?

~Adriane Rosenberg