Scientists have studied the epigenetic clock that's in charge of how dogs age and have created a new formula that more precisely pinpoints how old your pet is.
The researchers looked at DNA methylation, or chemical modifications to certain DNA segments, in the genomes of 104 labrador retrievers, from 4 weeks old to 16 years, Popular Mechanics reports. What the scientists uncovered in the bikoRxiv paper is that humans and dogs age in similar ways.
DNA methylation for humans can divulge the effects of disease, lifestyle, and genetics on our DNA. Through this information, researchers have created an epigenetic clock for humans and learned that mice and wolves also experience DNA methylation. Now, they’re applying what they know to understand how aging works in dogs.
Scientists have concluded that certain parts of the labrador and human genomes show comparable amounts of methylation. Humans and puppies age similarly when they’re young and realign in their later years.
The researchers also shared the new formula, which is a bit more complicated than multiplying by seven. To figure out the age, you’ll have to multiply the natural logarithm of your dog’s age by 16 and then add 31.
Here’s the equation: 16 x ln(your dog’s age in human years) + 31. The ‘ln’ is an abbreviation for the natural logarithm, which you can calculate with this link—or you can use the conversion tool here. So, for example, a 2-year-old dog would be around 42 in human years.