The saddest thing about living with dogs is that you'll probably outlive them. Even the best-kept pooch isn't likely to make it much past 15 years. If you're a person living in the modern world, you probably have eight times that much, which raises an interesting question about how fast dogs age? At a glance, the conversion seems simple. Dog life expectancy of 10 years, human roughly 80; therefore, one human year equals 8 in doggo.
It's not that simple, however. Different dog breeds age at different rates, and age affects them all differently. For example, a year-old poodle is much closer to the adult form than an eight-year-old human. And a 15-year-old golden retriever is not actually 120 in dog years. This subject bears a closer look if only because a better understanding of your puppy's aging process can help you keep them healthy throughout their life.
Dog breeds don't age at the same rate, and a single dog doesn't age at a steady pace all its life. Most dogs go through the equivalent of their whole childhood in the first 12 months. If you care for a small or medium breed, figure the first year is basically like 15 human years. Larger breeds age slower, so a giant breed might work out to around 12 dog years from puppy to a pal.
Dogs' aging slows down a bit in their second year, and again different breeds do this at different rates. Small breeds experience around 9-10 years in their second human year, while larger breeds manage around 8-9. Though the breeds are closer in year two, they are slowing down at different rates and will diverge again soon.
Aging slows a lot in the third year. Small and medium breeds experience something like four years per human year at this stage. Thus, by the end of the third year, your poodle is the equivalent of a 28-year-old human for health purposes and the ability to accept training. Giant dog breeds finish this year at the equivalent of age 31 or so.
From your puppers' fourth birthday (we know you bought a cake, don't pretend you didn't), the aging process settles down and becomes more standard across breeds. Yorkies are around 32 human years by the end of this year, while Caucasian shepherds are more like 38. A good point to remember is that it takes more work to haul around a big dog's body, and the weight and effort put more wear on their joints.
For every year going forward, it's safe to just add four years to every breed. Thus, a small or medium dog is 36 years old on its sixth birthday, while a giant breed should be regarded as closer to 45. Vets do a similar calculation when determining your doggos' diet needs and health risks.
Puppies have just started, and they come into the world with certain health needs you should tend to, of course. Vaccinations matter, of course, as do regular feedings. Ask your vet about your dog's specific food intake needs since this number changes from one breed to another and across the early months.
Once your dog is grown, things should settle down healthwise for a few years. Dogs between ages 3 to 7 are basically in their normal adult period, and their care is mostly about keeping them healthy and happy. Regular diets, daily or near-daily exercise, and routine vet care are the best way to give your dog a stable, happy middle age.
As dog's age, they develop a range of health issues that are likely to get worse as they go. For example, medium-sized dogs, such as German shepherds, are prone to hip and joint pain. If you can, research in advance to find out which age-related conditions your dog is most likely to face in their later years, which should give you a head start and a good idea of what to look out for.
Younger dogs, from puppies to doggo-teenagers, typically need lots of runs and walkies in green open spaces. Even smaller breeds with short little legs need to trot around for a bit, though they might struggle to keep up with a human jogger. Instead, try letting them off the leash someplace safe, and don't be surprised if it's more than an hour before they're tuckered out and ready to leave the park.
Old dogs may be famously unable to learn new tricks, but with the proper care, they can continue to enjoy a healthy, happy life for however long you have together. Speak with your vet about how your pupper's diet needs are likely to shift between ages 6-10 and ask in particular about vitamin and mineral supplements they may need. Develop an exercise routine that's less strenuous than it was before but still keeps them fit.
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