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If you’ve adopted a dog or taken in a stray, figuring out how old she is can be a challenge. While Fido may act like a big clumsy pup, looks may not tell the whole story. And that well-known formula, “Dogs live seven years for every one human year” isn’t truly accurate, and it only works if you know a dog’s age. But you can still “guesstimate” your canine pal’s age by noticing a few telltale signs.
First of all, size and breed play a big role in determining Fido’s lifespan. Smaller breeds, like Chihuahuas, typically live longer than larger dogs, and during the first 2-3 years of their lives, they also mature faster.
On the other hand, larger breeds, like Great Danes, grow more slowly when they’re puppies. By age five, a Great Dane has reached doggy middle age, while a Chihuahua, at five years old, would only be in his early-30s in human years.
Fido’s choppers can also provide information about her age. Puppies four weeks old and younger usually have no teeth at all. In fact, Fido won’t start growing permanent teeth until she’s three to four months old. They’ll also be a spiffy white at the puppy stage.
As a dog ages, you’ll begin to see more tartar, stains, and plaque. By age five, tartar and plaque really start to show, and Fido’s teeth may be less pointed or slightly worn down. At this point, the risk of dental disease increases considerably. Also, canines ten years old and older tend to have loose, cracked, or missing teeth.
Much like with their human companions, gray hairs are telltale signs of aging on dogs. Your pooch will likely get gray or white hairs on her haunches, chest, and muzzle between the ages of seven and ten. However, some dogs start to develop gray hairs at an early age, oftentimes due to anxiety and stress.
Fido’s eyes also say a lot about his age. With time, a dog’s eyes may start to get cloudy and produce discharge. These changes usually begin appearing between six and eight years old. For senior dogs, cataracts or vision loss are also more common.
This one’s pretty easy to spot. Anyone who’s had a puppy knows they tend to have a bottomless energy reserve. As Fido gets older, she’ll probably start to prefer naps on the couch to runs in the park.
Do you have questions about your dog’s age and health needs? Contact us today!