On this we can all agree: The lifespan of a dog is far too short. The Dog Aging Project hopes to change that.
Researchers are hoping to study a group of 10,000 dogs over the course of 10 years to see whether they can improve the life expectancy of canines and their overall quality of life.
Dogs' lives are six to 12 times shorter than that of humans, according to a study by the Frontiers in Veterinary Science.
The researchers, which include teams from the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, are being funded by the National Institute of Aging, a division the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers' expertise comes from a wide range of fields and institutions. All together, it will be the largest-ever study on aging in dogs. But their scope expands far beyond: The researchers hope that the information they learn could eventually be applied to humans as well.
"Dogs truly are science's best friends," the research team told CNN in a joint statement. "Though they age more rapidly than humans, they get the same diseases of aging, have a rich genetic makeup, and share our environment."
"By studying aging in dogs," they said, "we can more quickly expand our knowledge of aging not just in dogs but also in humans." They added that the group is hopeful that their discoveries could lead to better "prediction, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease."
Now accepting applicants
Applications to the project are officially open.
Owners can visit the Dog Aging Project's website to nominate their pooch. The submission process takes less than 10 minutes, and generally consists of questions about your canine to help the researchers learn whether he or she is the right fit.
Have more questions? Here's a helpful FAQ.
Dogs from all 50 states, and of all ages, sizes, and breeds may apply. The researchers will even consider dogs with chronic illnesses, hoping to include as much genetic diversity as possible.
That will help them identify biological and environmental factors critical to improving overall health and lifespan.
And humans -- your participation is welcome too.
"Dogs and their owners are 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 a citizen scientist."
Owners will be asked to fill out surveys about their dog's health and life experience, and sample the dog's saliva, too.