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How Old Is Your Pet…Really? Calculate Your Pet’s Age!

Feb 02, 2017

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You’ve probably heard that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years. However, that is not entirely correct. Large and small dogs age at different rates. Furthermore, the 1:7 ratio has been limited to dogs and does not include cats. 

Why is knowing your pet’s age important?

As we start the year with new resolutions and health goals for our pets, it’s also necessary to factor in our pet’s age when thinking about their health. If you’ve walked down the aisle of a pet supply store, you may have seen dog food targeted for puppies, adults, and seniors. It is important that, as our pets age, we provide them with the appropriate diet and exercise regimen.

Like humans, pets can develop conditions or diseases such as arthritis, cancer, liver disease, heart disease, and more as they age. As such, pets require more medical attention as they get older. Having wellness exams twice a year will help your veterinarian detect early signs of disease. 

How old is my dog?

Larger dogs generally have shorter life spans compared to small-breed dogs. A large-breed dog like a Great Dane lives up to 6 to 8 years while a small-breed dog like a Chihuahua can live up to 18 years. These are general statistics. We’ve certainly seen dogs live shorter or longer than their expected life span. Because large- and small-breed dogs have different life spans, they are considered senior dogs at different ages too.

A large-breed dog is considered geriatric at around 5 to 6 years old, and a small-breed dog at approximately 7 years old. It seems young to us, but we need to convert these years into the equivalent “human” years. 

Here is a breakdown of dog years to human years from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA):

Dog years

Human years

7

Small – Medium: 44-47 years old

Large – Very large: 50-56 years old

10

Small – Medium: 56-60 years old

Large – Very large: 66-78 years old

15

Small – Medium: 76-83 years old

Large – Very large: 93-115 years old

20

Small – Medium: 96-105 years old

Large: 120 years old

*Small: 0-20 lbs.; Medium: 21-50 lbs.; Large: 51-90 lbs.; Very Large: >90 lbs. 
The oldest recorded age of a cat is 34 years. The oldest recorded age of a dog is 29 years.

 
As you can see, a small 7-year-old dog is roughly 44 to 47 years old in human years, but a large dog is 50 to 56 years old. Imagine a large-breed dog that hasn’t been seen by a veterinarian in three years. Based on the above calculations, approximately 16 human years has passed since the dog had a wellness exam! This explains why we see pets develop a disease or condition within one year of their last exam. It may be only one year for us, but it’s been several for our pets.

How old is my cat? 

Although cats typically live longer than most medium- to large-breed dogs, they still age faster than humans. Like dogs, cats age faster in their early years. By the time they are 1, they can be the equivalent of 15 human years. The average life span of domestic cat is about the same as a small-breed dog—around 12 to 18 years. Cats are considered geriatric at 7 years old.  

Cat years

Human years

7

45

10

58

15

75

20

98


Cats need annual wellness exams, too. Unfortunately, cats receive fewer visits to the veterinarian than dogs. Some reasons cat owners have given as to why they don’t take their cats to the vet include a perception that cats don’t need as much care, that they only take their cat when something is obviously wrong, or that vet visits put too much stress on their cat. Read our blog post on tips to prepare your cat for a vet visit and reduce stress. 

Age Charts

In conclusion, “1 dog/cat year = 7 human years” is not quite accurate when it comes to calculating your pet’s age. We encourage you to check your pet’s age every year to see your pet’s true age. For rescue pets, your veterinarian can help you determine your pet’s age by examining their teeth, eyes, and coat.

Reference these charts to help you calculate your pet’s age.

Dog Age Chart

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Cat Age Chart

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Category: Pet Health Tips