20 July 2021
As a dog owner, you will undoubtedly have heard the theory that each dog year is equal to about seven human years. However, there’s such an enormous variation between dog breeds, as well as their rate of growth as puppies, that means that this simple calculation isn’t very accurate.
Puppies develop very rapidly, meaning that by the time your puppy reaches their first birthday, they are similar to a 15-year-old human. By the end of their second year, it’s suggested that dogs are broadly equivalent to a 24-year-old. As they grow up, you could add on around five years per calendar year – but as there’s a great variation in lifespan according to breed and size, this really is only a rough guide.
If you have a small dog, they tend to live longer, and so you may not notice any signs of ageing until they are at double figures, whereas large and giant breeds do have a shorter lifespan. These types of dogs may be visibly ageing by the time they are around seven.
Why is important to think about ageing?
It’s certainly fun to think about your dog’s age, and where that ranks them amongst family members, but actually, keeping a watch on signs of your dog beginning to age is an important part of their care. Signs to look out for include:
- Change in usual behaviour –your dog may become less excitable and more reserved or cautious
- You might notice grey or white hairs appearing, particularly if your dog has a dark coat
- Yellowing teeth. Over time, your dog’s teeth will discolour due to a build up of plaque
- Less active – your previously lively dog may start to struggle with stairs, or be less interested in going for walks. Reduction in activity or enjoyment of activity can indicate pain. Always have your dog examined by a vet as old age alone should not cause mobility issues.
- You may notice your dog’s eyes appearing cloudy – possibly the development of cataracts. Have them examined at the vet to check for any serious eye problems.
If any of these signs are causing concern, it’s always wise to have a check-up with your vet, who will be able to advise you on the best ways to keep your dog healthy as they grow older.
With a Kennel Club Pet Insurance policy, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.