In this edition of Pet Pointers, Lisa Chelenza explains what dog years really means.
The old way of thinking was that for each human year, your dog aged seven years. However, how your dog ages depends on several factors including breed, genetics, and general health.
A five-year-old obese, medium size dog with diabetes has a shorter life expectancy than a lean, healthy dog of the same age.
There really is no reliable standard for a conversation of human years to dog years because of wide range of variables.
Large dogs age faster than smaller dogs, and in general live shorter lives. For example, a Great Dane is one of the largest breeds of dog, and lives about seven to ten years. Meanwhile, most of the toy breeds have an average life expectancy of 10 to 15 years.
The best thing you can do for your pet is to keep them healthy.
Extra weight will also age your pets. If you can’t see their waist, it’s time to get more exercise and cut back on the treats. An extra five to ten pounds on your dog can increase the chances of joint issues and diabetes, and therefore prematurely age your dog.
Ruling out any heart, lung or joint issues, keeping your pet healthy is the best way to add years to their life. A daily walk of at least 20 minutes will help keep your pet in shape, tone its muscles, and keep joints limber.
As your dog matures, talk to your vet about dental care to prevent tooth loss, blood work to catch any diseases early, and supplements to help with hip and joint maintenance.