The researchers, which included a team from the University of Washington School of Medicine and the University of Texas A&M School of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences, were funded by the National Institute of Aging, a division of the National Institutes of Health.
The expertise of the researchers came from various fields and institutions. Overall, this will be the largest study of aging in dogs. But their scope extends far beyond: Researchers hope that the information they learn can ultimately be applied to humans as well.
"Dogs are really close friends of science," the research team told CNN in a joint statement. "Even though they age faster than humans, they get the same aging disease, have a rich genetic makeup, and share our environment."
"By studying aging in dogs," they say, "we can more quickly expand our knowledge of aging not only in dogs but also in humans." They added that the group hoped that their findings could lead to "better prediction, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and disease prevention."
Now accept applicants
The application for this project was officially opened.
Dogs from all 50 states, and of all ages, sizes and breeds may apply. Researchers will even consider dogs with chronic diseases, hoping to include as much genetic diversity as possible.
That will help them identify biological and environmental factors that are important for improving overall health and age.
And humans – your participation is also welcome.
"Dogs and their owners are at the heart of the Dog Aging Project," the researchers said. "People who nominate a dog will have the opportunity to partner with our research team as citizen scientists."
The owner will be asked to fill out a survey about the health and life experience of their dog, and taste the dog's saliva as well.