Researchers say man and man's best friend are more alike than we think

The overall goal of the study is to improve the health and lifespan of dogs and apply the findings to humans.

Posted: Dec 19, 2019 1:30 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLF)— Researchers at Purdue University are studying man's best friend in order to learn more about man. It's called 'the Dog Aging Project.'

The study is a first, and is expected to continue for the next ten years. 

The research looks at all different kinds of dogs from all over the nation. That includes breed, size, age and environment. Researchers says it's important to study many dogs from all over to find different environmental factors.

The overall goal of the study is to improve the health and lifespan of dogs and apply the findings to humans.

How can studying dogs help us to learn more about humans? Turns out, we are more alike than we thought.

Audrey Ruple, Veterinary Epidemiologist and Assistant Professor at Purdue, explained dogs and humans have very similar genetics.

The two species share similar health problems and diseases. One example Ruple used is cancer.

"Dogs develop cancer at a more rapid rate than humans do," she explained. "Therefore we can learn a lot of information about cancer in addition to other age-related diseases by studying dogs."

Ruple told News 18 another main focus for researchers is finding more on 'health span.'

Health span is the amount of time a species is alive in good health.

Ruple explained the human population lives longer now than ever before. However, she said there is an even deeper issue.

"The problem that we're seeing is most of that time, or much of that time, in life is healthy. But we're having a larger proportion of our life being in unhealth and being in a state of unwellness."

The study is accepting thousands of dogs to participate. To nominate your pup, click here. 

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