Dog Years: How can you tell how old a dog is?
It’s not always apparent how old a dog is. You may have just adopted a canine companion or a stray may have found his way to your door. Either way, we, in general, like to know the age of our pets. Unfortunately, this is not an exact science and there can be many variables. Even an experienced veterinary professional is making an educated guess. But, there are some solid indicators.
Let’s look at some of the ways to tell a dog’s age.
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5. Check out his chompers.
Your dog like a human starts out with what we call puppy teeth, sharp needles which could be used as replacement teeth for a piranha. These teeth start to drop out around about 18 weeks. By six months all the puppy teeth should be replaced by adult teeth.
However, the pup will still have a need to chew as the teeth need to set into the gums, which can take up to a year.
The amount of tartar build-up on the teeth is also a strong indicator of age. In most dogs, tartar will start to form around the molars rather than the canines between twenty months and two years. This build-up will be reasonably light at this age. By five years of age, the tartar will be far more obvious and will affect the base of the canines as well.
By the time the dog starts to move into middle age the incisors start to wear down once again this can be affected by diet.
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4. Look into his eyes.
Lenticular sclerosis can affect many dogs. It normally starts between six and eight years of age depending on size and breed. This condition is often mistaken for cataracts especially in the later stages. Your pooch can get cataracts but sclerosis is far more common and can be an indicator of his age.
The early onset of lenticular sclerosis can be distinguished by thin lines across the lens of the eyes, later on, say aged eight the pupil will start to get a slightly gray, white, or bluish tinge.
This does not affect the vision until old age. It is not treatable. However, it is worth making sure it is not cataracts, as these can be removed.
3. Check his coat
As in humans, your dog’s hair and skin can be an indication of age. Graying around the muzzle and around the top of his head and eyebrows can indicate the onset of middle to old age, but be aware that some breeds gray earlier than others. Reddish, yellow, or gold color dogs often go white at the top of their head and their muzzle in middle age.
The skin loses its elasticity and becomes dryer and your dog will generally lose muscle tone as he reaches old age. This will be more apparent if your dog has not been regularly exercised or the diet is of poor quality. The fur may become coarser and drier without the sheen of health and youth.
2. Boy you stink
A bad odor that does not appear to go away even after washing is also an indicator that your dog is past his middle age and moving into old age.
Stinking isn’t a natural part of canine aging but might be related to ailments common in geriatric dogs, including kidney or dental disease.
Old dogs with skin infections can smell pretty funky. Secondary bacterial infections from constant scratching can give off a putrid odor, as can yeast infections in your dog’s ears, paws or elsewhere.
Your vet will conduct various tests to determine the cause of your dog’s skin issues. If there’s an infection, she’ll likely prescribe antibiotics or anti-fungal medications.
1. He’s just not all that spunky.
If your dog is slow and sleeps more than he is awake then he is probably in late middle to old age. Arthritis, incontinence and weight gain can also be an indicator of old age.
The ability to jump into cars, stiffness, and joint pain though not totally the domain of old age can also be an indicator. Hearing can deteriorate in the later years, though the dog’s sense of smell rarely declines to any serious extent.
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