Your dog is a pillar in your life. During good times and bad times, he or she has been there every step of the way, and you might often find yourself exclaiming, “Can’t you just live forever?” Sadly, a dog’s time on this earth is never long enough. Yet with proper care and an abundance of love, you can help your pup live happily for years and years. Using pet supplements is a fantastic way to support your dog’s health as it ages. Wapiti Labs even offers unique supplements for older dogs to maintain their health well into the golden years of their lives.
How long will that be, you ask? The life expectancy of a dog depends on several factors, such as breed and overall health. If you want to know how old your dog is in people years and how to extend their lifespan as best as you can, this information can help you make every year with your dog as enjoyable as the first day you brought them home.
The 7:1 Formula
You have probably always heard that one dog year is the equivalent of seven human years. Since it’s an easy formula to remember, you may have never questioned its validity. Although there is some truth to the 7:1 ratio, the formula is a bit outdated. The dog/human calculation was created in the 1950s when life expectancy for humans was about 70 years and life expectancy for dogs was about 10 years. Thanks to a variety of factors, such as better healthcare and healthier living, the human mortality rate has increased and many dogs, big and small, live well past ten years of age.
Some experts believe that this formula was created to encourage pet owners to take their animal companions to the vet on an annual basis. If the formula was set up to educate and encourage pet owners to provide better care, it may have indeed worked.
What’s Your Dog’s Real Age?
Rather than the 7:1 rule that dog owners have been following for decades, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) determines that a dog’s first year of life, which sees the most growth and change, is equivalent to 15 human years regardless of the size. The second year of life, dogs age about nine years (making them 24 in human years) and up until year five, all dogs have a tendency to age at the rate of about four human years. Keep in mind that there is no exact science to determining the age of your dog. AVMA’s guidelines are designed to help owners get a general idea of the age of their dogs.
Once a dog reaches six years of age, the aging process will begin to vary depending on the size of your dog and will typically age four to five years for each human year. So, while a seven-year-old Pomeranian that weighs five pounds may be around age 45 in people years, a seven-year-old Newfoundland that weighs 100 pounds will be well over age 50. Bigger dogs, in general, age more quickly and have a shorter life span.
Although size is a factor in your dog’s longevity, it doesn’t mean your larger dog won’t live a long life. Many large dogs end up living into their late teens, which is the equivalent of a human in their mid-to-late nineties.
Slowing Your Dog’s Aging Process
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could freeze time and have your dog remain an active and healthy five-year-old for a handful of years? Although you can’t stop time, there are ways that you can help slow down the aging process. The best way to do this is to recognize some of the common signs of aging and what you can expect from an aging dog. Older dogs may experience some of the same health issues as an older human, such as cancer, diabetes, and even senility.
Keeping up with Vet Visits
Just as you and your family visit the doctor annually, your dog benefits from regular visits to his or her vet. Frequent vet visits can help you keep better tabs on your dog’s health and manage any issues as soon as they surface. Regular visits continue to be important as your dog ages, and most veterinarians recommend that dogs seven years and older should visit a couple of times a year.
What You Can Expect from a Wellness Visit
At your dog’s appointment, the vet will likely check everything from your dog’s skin and coat to eyes, ears, and heart. He or she may even recommend teeth cleaning for optimal health.
As your dog ages, it’s normal to see a decline in vision, hearing, mobility and energy. Although these are simply part of the aging process, it’s important to keep track of any changes in your dog and report them to the vet. Has your dog started running into things, or does it seem to be confused more easily now? Maybe he or she seems unhappy or in pain.
Changes in your dog’s physical health or demeanor can indicate a major health problem or may simply be related to aging. Any concerns or worries should be addressed, and your vet can help you diagnose any issues, discuss treatment options, encourage a senior diet, and even recommend supplements.
When your dog has reached his or her “senior years,” he or she may be the same age as your elderly grandparent in people years. Keeping that in mind, don’t forget to give your dog a little extra TLC. While it’s important to continue to daily walks, you may need to slow your pace a bit. Your dog may benefit from a thicker dog bed or an extra blanket in his or her sleeping space too.
Despite the fact that our time with our beloved companions is limited, we can help them live happily and comfortably as they age. By understanding how your dog ages, you can provide appropriate care, making your pet’s golden years a wonderful experience for both of you.
Contact us today for more information on supplies that can help your dog stay healthy as it ages.