Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Dog Is HOW OLD?!?!

Sophie is a typical four-year old Boston Terrier. She’s playful, constantly full of energy, and always the center of attention. It’s hard to think of her being anything else than your typical four year old but just how old is she really? We often take our pet’s age for granted and don’t realize that they age much faster than we do. In truth our pets are more mature mentally and physically than we ever give them credit.

For years the general rule has been to take your dog’s age and multiply it by seven. While this may do in a pinch it’s not the most accurate or scientific way to calculate your dog’s “true” age. For starters there is no one variable that can be used to determine your pet’s true age. Weight, breed, and life stage all affect how our pets age and must be taken into consideration. A Chihuahua won’t age as fast as a Great Dane. It’s a simple fact that a 5lb dog just won’t put nearly as much stress on their body as a 150lb dog will. Also some breeds such as Bulldogs or Sharpeis have more health issues than others and these considerations need to be addressed. Lastly, a puppy grows and develops at a much faster rate than an adult or senior dog will. Within the first 1-2 years of dog life a puppy will age 20-24 human years, an adult dog (2-9 years old) ages about 4 years for every human year and senior pets (9+ years old) age around 2 years for every human year. As you can see things are a little more complicated than they might first appear.

So just how old is our example pooch, Sophie? She is four so she would fall into the adult category. Let’s assume 24 human years for the first 2 years of life and 4 human years for each year thereafter. That brings us to a grand total of…. 32. Sophie would be approximately 32 years old if she were human. This is not quite equal to the gold standard of seven dog years for every human year but it is close enough. That’s a lot of growing up to do in only four short years.

After getting over the initial shock of just how old your dog really is you may be wondering well so what, why does this information matter? It matters because since dogs age so much faster than we do they are also affected by age related illnesses that much sooner. This is why it is so important to bring your pet in for their yearly physical and vaccinations. One year for us constitutes a much longer time for them in terms of growth and development. Not only are these routine checkups important in keeping our pets in overall good health but they also provide a way to detect age related problems while they are still treatable and before they become life threatening.

So I will leave you with one final question. Just how old IS your dog?

Pet Age Calculator

Dog Age Graph

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