Determining how old your dog is can be challenging if you’ve adopted him or taken in a stray. Even though Fido acts like a big clumsy puppy, looks can be deceiving. And that old formula, “Dogs live seven years for every one human year” doesn’t really work if you don’t know a dog’s age. However, you can “guesstimate” your canine pal’s age by tracking a few telltale signs.
Fido’s size and breed play a big role in determining his lifespan so that’s the first thing you want to consider. Smaller breeds, like Chihuahuas, tend to live longer than larger dogs, and also mature faster during the first 2-3 years of their lives.
On the other hand, larger breeds grow more slowly as pups, like the Great Dane. By age five, a Great Dane has reached middle-age doggy years, while a five-year-old Chihuahua would only be in his early-30s in human years.
Fido’s choppers also convey information about his age. Puppies younger than four weeks seldom have any teeth at all. In fact, Fido will be three to four months old before he starts growing permanent teeth. They’ll also be a clean white at this stage.
Stains, tartar, and plaque become more noticeable as a dog ages. Around age five, plaque and tartar really start to develop, and Fido’s teeth may be less pointy and slightly worn. At this point, dental disease risks increase considerably. And canines ten years old and older often have loose, cracked, or missing teeth.
Gray hairs are telltale signs of aging on dogs, just like with humans. Between the ages of seven and ten, your pooch will get gray or white hairs on his muzzle, haunches, and chest. However, some dogs develop gray hairs at an early age, oftentimes due anxiety and stress.
Fido’s eyes will also say a lot about his age. Over time, cloudiness and discharge can start to appear in a dog’s eyes. These changes usually begin appearing between six and eight years of age. Vision loss or cataracts are also more common in senior dogs.
This one’s pretty much a no-brainer. If you’ve ever had a puppy, you know how boundless their energy can be. As Fido ages, he’ll probably prefer naps on the couch to running in the park.
Do you have questions about your dog’s age and health needs? Contact us, your local animal clinic in North Miami, FL!