Scientists should invest more research in increasing canine life expectancy

Molly Morrissey, Staff Writer

While it may be cliché, a dog truly is a man’s best friend. We’ve seen that in “Marley and Me” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” and those lucky enough have experienced that firsthand by having a dog to call their own. They fill our lives with happiness and give us a purpose. Their only flaw is that they don’t live nearly as long as we wish they would. 

The average lifespan of a dog is 10-13 years, while the average lifespan of a human is 79.05 years. Based on my experience, those fortunate enough will have their dog in their life for only about eight years before they are forced to witness the heartbreaking effects of old age and health issues and how it affects their canine friend’s quality of life. 

As a former pet owner, I can attest that the pain of your dog growing older is one of the most painful experiences that I have undergone. I’ve witnessed my pet’s inability to get up and down the stairs, lose competency in their bodily functions and lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed. The pain of the loss that comes with a dog’s death is even more insufferable, which is why further investments should be made in prolonging a dog’s life in order to increase the quality and quantity of years lived. 

The term “dog years,” is one often used to describe a dog’s aging process. A “dog year” is equivalent to roughly 5 human years. The fact that a new term had to be coined as “dog years” to convey the quick nature of a canine’s aging process truly conveys that humans never have enough time with their dog due to their short life expectancy.

A dog’s life expectancy is immeasurably shorter compared to that of other animals. According to PBS, the average lifespan of a parrot is about 50 years while a tortoise’s life span ranges from 80-150 years. While dogs are domesticated animals, if their devoted owner feels that they deserve to live a longer life, then they should have the option to receive medical treatments that could provide additional years free of disease and suffering. 

 While these circumstances are simply determined by the course of nature, I argue that advanced technology and research could allow for our pets to live an improved and elongated life. Such research is commencing across the world.

According to Bloomberg.com, Canine Life Extension Research is currently underway in Silicon Valley, which is intended to eventually be used on humans. 

Additionally, according to manypets.com, veterinary scientists are conducting experiments on a pill known as rapamycin, which is intended to improve the function of dogs hearts which may increase life expectancy by two to four years. 

A dog is a member of the family, and when they pass away, the grief is just as difficult to overcome if it were a relative that passed away. Such a loss can negatively impact children’s’ mental health as well.  According to Harvard.edu, that a child’s connection to a pet might result in measurable psychological distress that can serve as an indicator of depression in children and adolescents for as long as three years or more after the loss of a beloved pet.”

If the choice to increase a dog’s life expectancy becomes available, it would be a necessity to ensure that their quality of life would also improve or remain unaffected in order to guarantee that the canine’s comfort is not sacrificed for the sake of the owner’s desires of keeping them alive.

If these treatments could become easily available and cost effective, not only would these discoveries improve the lives of our beloved pets, but also the mental health of their owners.