With man’s best friend by your side (Charlie, Max, Buddy, or whatever fun name they may have), we often find ourselves asking just how old our dogs would be in human years. We do know one thing: no matter if our dogs are young and yappy or old and wise, we can’t give them enough love.
There are many reasons you might want to know how old your furry friend is. Most want to keep a close eye on their pet’s health and provide them with all the care a “senior” might need. Providing your four-legged bundles of you all this care and love is next to impossible without knowing exactly which stage of life they’re going through.
The Simple Way to Calculate Your Dog’s Age
We’ve all most likely heard and used the easy way to find out how old our dogs would be in human years. Just take however old your dog is, and multiply it by 7! Easy peasy. So, say, your puppy is two years old. In human years, that would make them 14. Your dog’s unrivaled energy and want for attention may just resemble what you see in humans when they’re teenagers. It’s a tough time for puppies, just like it was a tough time to be in high school as a teenager. Give them some space and make it through the other side of the terrible twos.
The More Complex and Pinpoint Way to Find out Your Dog’s Age
The truth of the matter is, the math to find out your dog’s age in human years isn’t quite that simple. One year for your companion to seven years for you is a good approximation at best, and the variables that go into your dog’s age and lifespan are much more complicated. Research into dog lifespan with great cooperation from pet-insurers to veterinary clinics shows that dogs have a much faster growth rate in their first year than humans. In fact, dogs age the equivalent of 15 humans years in just their first year!
Dogs generally age the equivalent of nine human years in their second year, and afterward around the equivalent of five human years for each year. This really puts your dog’s age into perspective. Say your dog just turned six years old – that would make him (15 + 9 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5) 44 years in human years! Just a little over half a decade and your pal will have to get over a mid-life crisis!
Keep in mind that those numbers can change a little bit depending on your dog’s breed. The general idea is that larger dogs will tend to age faster than smaller dogs. So, a 12-year-old Great Dane would be 77 in human years while a 12-year-old Boston Terrier would be 64 in human years. This weird math compounds more as the number of years stacks up. Where a 16-year-old Saint Bernard would be 120 in human years, a Corgi would only be 80.
The takeaway is that the larger your dog is, the faster they’re going to feel old. Make sure to give plenty of love to your older dogs and help them live out their best!
Things to Look for in an Aging Dog
Just like humans start getting gray hairs and wrinkly skin, dogs have some different ways of showing their age. Here are some very important things to look for as your dog is reaching its later years in life.
- Gaining (or losing) weight
Your dog’s body will change over time, and in its later years, they may start showing some changes in the way they eat. Often, aging dogs will start gaining weight as their metabolism slows down, and they don’t run around as much as they used to. Changes in their body, such as thyroid issues, may also cause some weight gain. There are cases where dogs have a much lower appetite and lose weight. The easiest way to combat weight gain is to change their food – supermarkets often have a special formula of dog food made for aging dogs that will help them keep in tip-top shape. Of course, make sure to consult with your vet first to check if your dog has any medical issues related to weight gain.
- Cloudy eyes
Being able to see sure is a blessing, but it can be tough to deal with worse and worse vision. We can throw on a pair of glasses to help us see most of the time, but it’s hard for dogs to say anything about their worsening vision. If you have the chance to look into your dog’s eyes every now and then, they might show a little cloudiness (which is called nuclear sclerosis). Make it a point to take your dog to the vet if you notice any cloudiness since there is a chance that it’s caused by cataracts. Some different foods can help with your dog’s vision, so make sure to check them out.
- Changes in behavior
Your dog may start showing less energy, be less responsive to your calls, and take longer naps throughout the day. These are all normal behavioral changes as your dog ages. Your dog may also seem confused or unstable, which may be a sign of cognitive dysfunction. While these changes are not curable, there are supplements and treatments that can help your dog live a happy adult life.
- Hearing loss
If you’ve noticed your dog not responding to your calls as much as they used to, you might think that they’re just getting old and grumpy. While that may be true, your dog could also be losing their hearing. As dogs grow older and have a harder time hearing and seeing you call out, reassure them with slow and gentle rubs.
How to Help Your Dog Live Longer
We spend lots of time (especially right after the New Year holidays) worrying about our own health, but do we spend enough time thinking about keeping our dogs healthy and active? Here are some good ways to keep your dogs fit and happy.
- Appropriate weight
All dog breeds have an appropriate weight range they should maintain to keep fit and healthy. It’s too easy to pour out a whole bunch of dog food for the week, but it’s essential to make sure that your dogs are eating the right amount every day.
- Daily exercise
Long walks outside with shorter bursts of playtime is vital for any dog, with smaller breeds needing around three miles of walking/running a day and larger herding, sporting, or hound dogs needing up to 20 or 30 miles a day.
- Routine checkups at the vet
In the same way that doctors recommend us to get routine checkups to make sure we’re in good shape, taking your dog to the vet for regular checkups is a great idea. As dogs often try to hide any pains (because they don’t want to worry their owner), it can be hard for some owners to notice that something is wrong.
- Dental hygiene
A dog lives and dies by how healthy their teeth are. Make sure to use dental chewing sticks and use your routine checkups at the vet to see if your dog’s pearly whites are pointy and healthy.
With all of those basic needs out of the way, one of the most important and indispensable things your dog needs is your love and attention. Many breeds of dogs have evolved to be the ultimate partner for humans, and their insatiable want to be here for us is hard-baked into their DNA. Give your beautiful dogs the love that they deserve and make the best memories.