It is a common belief that one human year is equal seven dog years. But this is not always true! Aging is a natural process and age is just a number. Your dog's actually age is influenced by many factors such as genetics, size, breed, lifestyle, and quality of care. So, how old is your dog really?
One general rule is that smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs. In the study, Risk Factors Associated with Lifespan in Pet Dogs, small dogs had a median lifespan of 14.95 years while large dog's median lifespan was 13.38 and giant dogs, 11.11 years. Professor Mark Elgar of the University of Melbourne’s School of Biosciences, that a larger dog, because of its size, may put more strain on its physiological processes, meaning they tend to wear out more quickly.
Some breeds have longer lifespans, generally speaking. While others are knows to have the shortest lifespans. The Risk Factors study, however found no significant correlation of shorter lifespans for pure breed dogs versus mixed breeds.
Lifestyle choices include how much exercise your dog gets and how much food as well as what kinds of foods they eat. Extracurricular or enrichment activities help extend their cognition. Just like us, our dog's life span will benefit from staying healthy, fit, active, and using their brains!
The quality of care your dog receives also plays an important role. Do they get age-appropriate vet care? This includes dental care! Are their specific behavioral needs being met? Are they happy and comfortable? Do you recognize when your dog is in pain and provide them with the care they need?
While some factors such as size and breed can't be changed, the lifestyle and care we provide for our dogs is completely dependent on us. And, it plays a huge role in our dog's happiness and health today and for the long run.
Here are some simple ways to keep your senior dog young!
Sniffari: Your dog's sense of smell stay strong even in their golden years. Give them more time and opportunities to "smell the roses"
New tricks: The best thing about training a more mature dog is that they know how training works! Keep their brains sharp by introducing a new trick or two.
Brain games: Your senior dog may not be able to chase a ball around the yard as much but that doesn't mean they don't need some sort of stimulation. Give them puzzles or participate in some fun canine science games for a low-energy but equally tiring alternative.
Getting older doesn't mean missing out. Although your senior pup may not be as active as they use to be they still need activities to express themselves and exercise their brains.
Do you have an aging dog and want to gain some more tips on how to provide the best care? Our self-paced course, Helping our Dogs Thrive in Their Golden Years is open for enrollment!