Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of the Dog Aging Project?

The Dog Aging Project is a citizen-science project designed to engage the public in data collection to advance our understanding of how genes, lifestyle, and environment influence aging. We want to use that information to help dogs and people live longer and increase healthspan, the period of life spent free from disease.

Where does this study take place?

The study takes place in the United States. Since we want to study your dog in their natural environment, the study will occur in your home or wherever you and your dog normally live and play.

What if I am not located within the US?

We encourage you to participate in our sister project, Darwin’s Ark.

If I am selected to participate, do I have to take my dogs into a lab or a research location?

No. Dogs enrolled in studies within the Dog Aging Project will continue to live and play in their home environments and continue to see their regular veterinarians. Owners of some dogs will also be asked to visit nearby veterinary specialists for certain tests.

What is rapamycin?

Rapamycin, also called sirolimus, is a drug that has been used in people for decades for cancer chemotherapy or organ transplant anti-rejection. However, when used at much lower doses in mice, it seems to change the way their bodies age. Mice treated with rapamycin seem to live longer and age more healthfully. We are interested in discovering whether these benefits could be seen in dogs as well.

Is it true that rapamycin will help my dog live longer?

We don’t know. That’s why we are conducting carefully monitored clinical trials as part of our research at the Dog Aging Project.

I want to give my dog rapamycin at home. What dosage should I use?

The effect of rapamycin in dogs is largely unknown. We cannot ethically recommend or provide suggestions for the use of rapamycin outside of our carefully monitored clinical trial.

Why not cats? Is there or will there be a Cat Aging Project?

There should be! While our team is dedicated to the study of dogs, dog aging and dog health, we hope that other researchers studying aging biology, gerontology and veterinary medicine will follow our lead with studies of cats and other pets.

Nomination Questions

I already told you I’m interested in being part of the study, do I still need to fill out the nomination form?

Yes. It may have been months or even years since you first registered your interest. We want to make sure you and your dog still want to be part of the study. Additionally, having some basic information about you and your dog will helps us determine how to best include you in our study.

What kind of dogs are eligible to participate in the Dog Aging Project?

We are very excited to invite all kinds of dogs to participate. Big or small, young or old, mutt or purebred—all dogs in the 50 states of the United States (excluding US territories) are welcome!  Our only requirement is that your dog receives regular veterinary care because we will ask that veterinarian to share medical records with us.

What kind of commitment should I expect as a participant in the Dog Aging Project?

We strive to make it easy for you to participate. Once you and your dog are enrolled, we will ask you periodically to complete online surveys. In addition, your dog will need to go to your regular veterinarian once per year for an examination, which is already part of the care that many owners provide.  Depending on which group you are assigned to in the study, you may be sent kits for your veterinarian to use to collect blood, urine, and other samples from your dog at the annual visit.

Can I nominate more than one dog?

No. During the sign-up process, we will ask you to provide basic information about all of your dogs. However, we will only enroll one dog per household, so we ask you to nominate just one. This practice avoids errors and mix-ups during data collection that could undermine the scientific integrity of our research, and it allows us to gather information from as many different environments as possible.

How do I decide which of my dogs to nominate for the Dog Aging Project?

When you sign up, you will see a list of things we would like to know about your dog or may ask you to do with your dog. Select the dog for whom you can provide the most information. If all of your dogs seem equally well-suited, then you get to choose which one to nominate. The more we know about your dog’s entire life, the more we can learn from them.

What does it cost to participate in the Dog Aging Project?

Other than your dog’s regular annual visit to your regular veterinarian, there is no out of pocket cost to participate. For those dogs in the part of the study that includes sample collection, it will be best to schedule the annual exam at the time you receive the sample collection kit to avoid additional cost.

Donation Questions

How can I support the Dog Aging Project?

You can donate to the Dog Aging Project through either the University of Washington or Texas A&M University.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Your donation is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

How will the Dog Aging Project use my donation?

Your donation will help build infrastructure, support our research team, provide sample and data collection kits, pay for diagnostic testing, and provide education to the public. For example, a donation of $100 could pay for the sequencing and genomic analysis for one dog. A donation of $1,000 could support a research fellow for a week. A donation of $10,000 could help us develop new tests to understand aging.

Career Questions

Are you hiring? If so, how do I join the Dog Aging Project team?

All of our current openings and hiring updates can be found on our careers page.

Are there opportunities for postdoctoral researchers or fellows?

Yes. The Dog Aging Project is delighted to work with early career researchers and veterinary clinicians, and these opportunities will become available in various labs based on the academic cycle of that year. Visit our career page for updates about the various career opportunities with the Dog Aging Project, including postdoctoral researchers and fellows.