An explanation of how old is that pet of yours.
One of the most frequent questions dog and cat owners get asked is how old is he or she. The pet that is!
And one of the most frequent concerns we have for our pets is how long will they live, as in what is their natural life span. Certainly, most of us realise that the larger dogs live slightly shorter lives but is that borne out in practice.
Well a recent professional article on The Conversation blogsite answered those questions.
How old is my pet in dog years or cat years? A veterinarian explains
Clinical Instructor of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University
July 23rd, 2019
“Just how old do you think my dog is in dog years?” is a question I hear on a regular basis. People love to anthropomorphize pets, attributing human characteristics to them. And most of us want to extend our animal friends’ healthy lives for as long as possible.
It may seem like sort of a silly thing to ponder, born out of owners’ love for their pets and the human-animal bond between them. But determining a pet’s “real” age is actually important because it helps veterinarians like me recommend life-stage specific healthcare for our animal patients.
There’s an old myth that one regular year is like seven years for dogs and cats. There’s a bit of logic behind it. People observed that with optimal healthcare, an average-sized, medium dog would on average live one-seventh as long as its human owner – and so the seven “dog years” for every “human year” equation was born.
Not every dog is “average-sized” though so this seven-year rule was an oversimplification from the start. Dogs and cats age differently not just from people but also from each other, based partly on breed characteristics and size. Bigger animals tend to have shorter life spans than smaller ones do. While cats vary little in size, the size and life expectancy of dogs can vary greatly – think a Chihuahua versus a Great Dane.
Human life expectancy has changed over the years. And vets are now able to provide far superior medical care to pets than we could even a decade ago. So now we use a better methodology to define just how old rule of thumb that counted every calendar year as seven “animal years.”
Based on the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Life Stages Guidelines, today’s vets divide dogs into six categories: puppy, junior, adult, mature, senior and geriatric. Life stages are a more practical way to think about age than assigning a single number; even human health recommendations are based on developmental stage rather than exactly how old you are in years.
Canine life stages
Veterinarians divide a dog’s expected life span into six life stages based on developmental milestones. These age ranges are for a medium-sized dog; smaller dogs tend to live longer, while larger dogs tend to have shorter life expectancies.
|Puppy||0 – 0.5||Birth to sexual maturity|
|Junior||0.5 – 0.75||Reproductively mature, still growing|
|Adult||0.75 – 6.5||Finished growing, sexually and structurally mature|
|Mature||6.5 – 9.75||From middle to last 25% of expected lifespan|
|Senior||9.75 -13||Last 25% of life expectancy|
|Geriatric||over 13||Beyond life span expectation|