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Fact Check: Can a New Supplement Add Years to Your Dog's Life?

A new study sheds light on the product's claims it will give you extra time with your pup.

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Many dog owners go to great lengths to protect their pets from harm and maintain their health. But despite our best efforts, canines' shorter lifespans ultimately lead to a devastating loss much sooner than any human is ever prepared for. Now, one company claims to have cracked the longevity code with a new product for pups that will help them live longer. But as with many pills that make such claims, some pet owners are wondering: Can a supplement really add years to your dog's life?

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The product in question is called Leap Years and is made by Boston-based parent company Animal Biosciences. On its website, it's described as the "first soft chew supplement for dogs that addresses the root causes of aging" by using senolytics to remove aging "zombie cells" in the body that are no longer functioning correctly. The company also claims that the chews boost levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)—a supposedly vital coenzyme that helps restore energy and stops the slowdown of bodily functions.

The company claims that this formula "keeps your dog feeling like their younger self for longer" and "gives you and your dog more healthy days together" while also boosting cognitive function. Currently, the size-specific regimen costs anywhere from roughly $60 to over $110 per month.

While Leap Years isn't the first pet supplement to list increased energy and longevity as possible benefits, new research claims to have substantiated its product claims. In a study released on Feb. 28 that has not yet been peer-reviewed, veterinary scientists at the University of North Carolina enlisted 70 dogs and their pet parents to receive either low doses, high doses, or placebos of the supplement over three months. Owners were unaware of which dosage or placebo their pet was receiving.

Through the use of wearable devices and owner-reported logs, the research team was able to assign each participating dog a score on the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating (CCDR) scale over the course of the experiment. Results found that canines in the high-dosage group saw the best improvement in their scores from beginning to end.

While the initial results of the study—which a cofounder of Animal Biosciences funded—might seem encouraging, a deeper dive into the data complicates things. Namely, dogs only saw a modest improvement in their CCDR score compared to those taking the placebo. And most changes were noted during the first three months of testing and not during the final three, meaning that any changes may have been fleeting, Slate reports.

All other data from the study showed only statistically insignificant changes over time, thanks in part to the small sample size used in research. However, the company still touts some of these findings as success stories on its website, including the claim that all pet parents said their dogs were "happy or happier at each assessment timepoint."

Ultimately, while the findings suggest some modest improvements in cognitive function for dogs, there is no data in the latest research to suggest that Leap Years supplements will actually add to your pet's lifespan. The slight difference between high doses and placebo in just one area of research might suggest that the chews fall short of some of the advertised benefits.

When reached for comment by Best Life, a spokesperson for Animal Biosciences provided the following statement: "The study of aging is complex. We stand behind the science and vigor of the trial design. The manuscript is under peer review."

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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