The Companion Dog as a Model for the Longevity Dividend

Creevy, K E and Austad, S N and Hoffman, J M and Promislow, D E L and O'Neill, D G (2015) The Companion Dog as a Model for the Longevity Dividend. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine, 6 (1).

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Abstract

The companion dog is the most phenotypically diverse species on the planet. This enormous variability between breeds extends not only to morphology and behavior but also to longevity and the disorders that affect dogs. There are remarkable overlaps and similarities between the human and canine species. Dogs closely share our human environment, including its many risk factors, and the veterinary infrastructure to manage health in dogs is second only to the medical infrastructure for humans. Distinct breed-based health profiles, along with their well-developed health record system and high overlap with the human environment, make the companion dog an exceptional model to improve understanding of the physiological, social, and economic impacts of the longevity dividend (LD). In this review, we describe what is already known about age-specific patterns of morbidity and mortality in companion dogs, and then explore whether this existing evidence supports the LD. We also discuss some potential limitations to using dogs as models of aging, including the fact that many dogs are euthanized before they have lived out their natural life span. Overall, we conclude that the companion dog offers high potential as a model system that will enable deeper research into the LD than is otherwise possible.