How old is my pet in human years? It’s a question we hear a lot and most often, ALL of our clients believe the seven dog years for one human year myth.
When it comes to pets, there are a number of theories for determining how old your dog or cat is in human years. Over the years a number of changes have been made to that system and today here at Leesville Animal Hospital, we want to share the most recent thoughts.
Determining Your Pet’s Age in Human Years
A number of things can influence just how “old” your pet would be in human years but most particularly, their weight and breed for dogs and whether they are an indoor or outdoor cat for cats.
To put this into perspective, biologists at Germany’s University of Göttingen did a rather large study based on aging in dogs and their size. Their results showed that for every 4.4lb increase in body weight, the life expectancy of that dog decreases by one month!
Why is there such a difference in aging for big versus small breed dogs? It’s all down to anatomy as well as genetic health conditions that are found more prevalently in certain breeds. There are a few theories behind this, but most commonly believed is the speed with which large breed dogs grow. This increase in growth speed causes the body to age much more quickly and this increases the possibility of age related diseases and abnormal cell growth.
Cats Age in Human Years
Why do indoor cats live so much longer than outdoor cats? This one is just a matter of common sense! Indoor cats are exposed to less disease, face fewer threats from predators, take part in less risk taking behavior, and are monitored more carefully by owners for illness.
How Old is My Pet in Human Years? Are these Rules Hard and Fast?
No! There are always exceptions to the rule and oddities among individuals. For example, one of our clients adopted a Labrador Retriever that had been born in a puppy mill here in North Carolina. Although plagued with many of the common health conditions found in Labradors AND puppy mill dogs, her dog lived to 15 1/2 years old! Yup, that’s 96 human years for those of you who are counting!
So, is there anything you can do to increase your pet’s lifespan?
The best thing you can do for your pet is to maintain regular preventative health care and perform regular at-home monitoring of your pet’s habits, physical appearance, and behavior! If you notice anything that seems abnormal, give us a call here at our Raleigh Animal Hospital at (919) 887-8808 and we’ll fit you in right away!