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Knowing Your Dog’s Age

Knowing Your Dog’s Age
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It’s important to have an idea of your dog’s age, because caring for your pet often depends on how old they are. Older dogs and puppies need special food to ensure they get the correct nutrition and type of food for their stage of life, and older dogs often need to be observed for symptoms of age-related diseases and conditions. If you adopted your dog and aren’t sure of how old they are, you can get some clue from their teeth: Bright, clean teeth usually indicate a young dog, while duller, yellowed teeth usually indicate an older dog. Missing teeth or badly yellowed teeth may indicate a very old dog.


But if you know your dog’s birthday, what does his age mean? There is the common misconception that one dog year is equal to seven human years. While this captures the basic truth that animals age differently and in many cases much more quickly than human beings, it’s a gross oversimplification that doesn’t really give an accurate idea of how old your pet is in terms of real age as opposed simply to years.


Generally, all dogs are equivalent to a fifteen year-old human when they turn one. This is true no matter the dog’s size or breed. This means that most dogs are not quite mature at one year’s age, even though they are no longer considered puppies, and will continue to grow and develop for a bit afterwards.


After that first year, things get more complicated. Larger dogs age more quickly than smaller dogs, but this doesn’t really make a difference until the fifth or sixth year of life. Most dogs at age 5 are equivalent to a human at 36; but at age six large dogs can be considered approximately 45 in human years, while smaller dogs might be considered only 42. This discrepancy widens as time goes on, until by age 16 large dogs might be considered extremely elderly with a human equivalent of 120 years while smaller dogs might only be considered about 80 in human terms.


Of course, every dog is a unique organism, and many people have had dogs who behaved quite youthfully and in perfect health well into their old age, and of course some have had the tragedy of a dog that seems to age much more quickly and die young. Since dogs do not always exhibit obvious signs of age the way humans do, and cannot tell us how they feel, owners can often estimate a dog’s age and condition by changes in their behaviour: Slowing down, being unable to jump onto surfaces, exhibiting less interest in play, eating less or more than usual. Keen observation and a trip to the vet can often identify age-related conditions early and early treatment can in itself extend a dog’s lifespan – and the quality of life enjoyed during those years.


In the end, all thing grow older. We can only keep a careful eye on our pets and then do what we can to mitigate the effects of old age. This starts with having a good idea of just how old our dogs are, in real terms.


If you are looking to purchase an older dog rather than a puppy then from time to time we do have dog’s available. Please check out our older labradoodles for sale section to find out more.

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