The goals of the Dog Aging Project are to create a cohort of 10,000 companion dogs through which it will become possible to identify the genetic and environmental determinants of healthy aging, discover the underlying mechanisms through which genes and environment influence aging, and test a highly promising drug for its ability to increase lifespan and healthspan. Given that the majority of variation in aging phenotypes within mammalian species is likely to be explained by differences in environmental exposures ? either alone or via interactions with inherited genetic factors ? measurement of environmental variables for each dog in the cohort is essential. In order to meet the needs of the scientific projects for coordinated expertise in determining which aspects of the environment should and can be characterized, and through which approaches, an Environmental Assessment Core (EAC) will be established. The overall goal of the EAC is to support the scientific aims of the research projects by developing and implementing strategies for acquiring data that characterize various aspects of the companion dog environment.
Specific aims of this Core are to: 1) Design and implement annual dog owner-administered questionnaires that elicit each dog's travel history, non- prescription medications, diet and feeding, household environment, physical activity, reproductive activity, and behavior, as well as key behavioral and health conditions for owners; 2) Collect, process, validate, and prepare primary and secondary data related to conditions of the dog's environment; and, 3) Collaborate with Project Investigators to develop analytic strategies to assess the role of environmental conditions, and their interactions with genetic factors, in processes of aging.