Do Dogs Really Age Seven Times Faster Than Humans?
“How old is my dog, in people years?” This is not a dumb question! Dogs don’t just have shorter lives than humans, their bodies actually do age quicker. So, while the answer is never perfect, a dog’s biology is typically 7 to 8 times older than their chronological age. Though the exact rate varies by breed, and the individual animal, in broad terms it means a 7-year-old dog is comparable to a 50-year-old person. Larger breeds of dogs will have a rate of aging (in human years) faster than most smaller breeds. A very large breed could be looking at a lifespan of only 12 -14 years, whereas some smaller breeds if kept healthy, can have an additional few years in their “normal” lifespans.
As an owner, this has practical consequences. Dogs are more prone to age-related diseases and conditions as they progress into their senior years.
Obviously, the goal is to keep our dogs, no matter what breed, as healthy as possible as they enter their senior years. The best way to keep them healthy is by being able to detect a disease or condition early so that intervention can occur earlier. Heart disease, tumors, and other conditions can begin very slowly and subtly. Many pet owners are likely to seek intervention only after the condition has progressed to the point where their pet may show them some symptoms of that condition. Unfortunately, these conditions, at this point, are no longer in their ‘early’ stages and may be more difficult and certainly more expensive to treat. Taking your pet in to see the vet for a physical exam twice a year has proven to be an excellent method to detect early and subtle problems that you may not have seen.
Because your older pet will “age” 7 – 8 times faster than you will as you age, the twice-yearly examination is the optimal way to prevent too much time from elapsing between detection efforts. People in their 70’s/8 0’s/90’s usually seen a physician more frequently than every 7 or 8 years!!! The twice a year program for senior pets allows your veterinarian to assess a pet’s health status with a physical exam and also, if warranted, allows your pet to receive screening blood tests to detect those subtle internal conditions.
Obviously, not all chronic conditions fall into the ‘curable’ category, however, some non-curable conditions, like arthritis or certain heart issues can be managed quite successfully when detected early before there is too much damage to internal tissue. In order to allow your pet to live a healthier and happier lifestyle as it enters its senior years, remember to give your pet the gift of ‘health” by maintaining good nutrition, regular exercise and regular screenings for chronic age-related conditions. The twice-yearly screenings can ultimately save you money and, more importantly, can keep your pet happy way into its golden years!
Call CEDARCREST Animal Clinic at 540-943-7577 to enroll your dog in our twice-yearly senior wellness program.
CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville.