Scientists have found that your furry companion animals may not simply age at seven times the rate of humans. Your dogs might be “older” that we all previously thought.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego’s school of medicine published their findings in the journal Cell Systems, describing how they focused on the epigenetic changes to DNA.

They looked at the way methyl groups in certain areas of the human genome accumulated over time and compared them with how they accumulated in similar areas in the dog genome.

From the genetic data of about 100 Labrador Retrievers, puppies and elderly animals, reveal that every dog year is not equivalent to seven human years. Instead, the results show that dogs age more rapidly.

The rapid accumulation of methyl groups in dogs’ genome suggests that they age at a much faster rate than humans. However, as time passes by, the rate of ageing in dogs slows down.

In their findings, a one-year-old dog would have a “human age” of about 30. When they reach four, they would be about 54 in “human years.” At 14, that’s when they would be on par with a human in their mid-70s.

The team says they will have to repeat it in other breeds of dog.

“For instance, the epigenome translated seven weeks in dogs to nine months in humans, corresponding to the infant stage when deciduous teeth erupt in both puppies and babies,” the team wrote. “In seniors, the expected lifespan of Labrador Retrievers, 12 years, correctly translated to the worldwide lifetime expectancy of humans, 70 years.”

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