Why “Dog Years” intrigue us

Animal lovers are humanizing their pets more than ever.  Putting a human age on your dog is a natural part of this process.  “If Duke is four, that means he is 28 in human years.”   Well, not necessarily.  We have long been told that one dog year equals seven years of human life.  But actually, the ratio is higher in the younger years and decreases as the dog ages.

Not only is it fun to calculate dog years, we also use it to try to predict how long our best bud will be around.  We all hope for our pups to live long, healthy lives and there’s a tenuous sense of control that comes from understanding their “age” at various points in their time with us.

The following chart considers different development stages and the average rates at which they are reached for the various sizes of dogs:

dog years

FUN FACT:  The oldest recorded age for a dog is 27 years.

Besides the size of the dog, other factors play a role in the lifespan of dogs:

Neutering/Spaying  -  Neutered or spayed dogs tend to live longer than intact dogs.  The risk of cancer is greatly diminished by removing sex organs.  The sooner these procedures are done, the lower the risk of cancer these areas.

Diet - Like humans, a dog’s health and lifespan will be improved with a high-quality diet and suitable portion sizes. Foods without fillers, additives, and unnamed ingredients offer the healthiest nutrition. A dog’s requirements will depend on its age, weight, breed and lifestyle.

Exercise - All dogs require regular exercise for a healthy, long life. The amount and type of activity will depend on the breed and individual dog.  Mental stimulation for dogs is very important as well.  Changing up the daily walk route, playing with different toys, or giving the pup tasks to perform will all stimulate the mind.

Living Conditions – Dogs that live outside and endure extreme weather will have a shorter lifespan and be prone to early illness.  There are certain breeds of dogs can handle wet and cold conditions easier than others, but keeping your dogs indoors is recommended.

Medical Attention – Regular vet visits, vaccinations and monthly preventative medication will increase the lifespan of your dog.

Breed - Large breeds generally have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds.  Pure-breeds tend to be less healthy than mixed breeds.

BOGO dog Lady, below, will be 14 (78 in dog years) in early March. She’s got cataracts and her back end gives her issues some days but the word “Walk!” or any movement suggesting she might get a treat have her prancing like a two year old.

Lady

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