We’ve all heard that pets have two separate ages. Their dog or cat age and their human age. But most of us don’t care how old our pets are as long as they live long and healthy lives.
As it turns out, it’s kind of important to know.
According to IFLScience, it helps veterinarians to recommend healthcare that is specific to the life stage your animal is in.
It used to be considered that one regular year equaled seven years in your dog or cat’s human years.
This is because a healthy average-sized medium dog would live one-seventh as long as a human would.
So that’ how the seven-year per one human year came along. However, not all dogs are “average-sized” so this method for determining a pet’s human age isn’t very accurate.
Another reason why the seven-year method isn’t quite right is that dogs and cats age differently based on their breed characteristics and size.
Bigger animals are considered to have shorter lifespans than smaller ones so think of a Chihuahua compared to a Great Dane.
Humans life expectancies have also changed. So, basically, the seven-year method is just not the way to go anymore. Since veterinarians are able to offer a higher caliber of health care to pets they use a better methodology.
The American Animal Hospital Association Canine Life Stages Guidelines currently break down pets into six life stages:
“Life stages are a more practical way to think about age than assigning a single number. Even human health recommendations are based on developmental stage rather than exactly how old you are in years,” Clinical Instructor of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University Jesse Grady wrote.
“Dog breed and its associated size is one of the largest contributors to life expectancy, with nutrition and associated weight likely being the next most important factors for individual dogs.”
A veterinarian will base a pet’s healthcare on what life stage they are in. Similar to what physicians do for humans.
For example, you wouldn’t give a human toddler a colonoscopy.
That’s why a normal puppy doesn’t need its thyroid levels checked. These recommendations are also based on a vet’s examination of your pet.
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“And as is the case for people, your pet’s overall health status can influence their ‘real age’ for better or for worse,” Grady writes. “So next time you take your pet to the veterinarian, talk about your animal’s life stage and find out what health recommendations come with it. Watching out for health abnormalities and maintaining a healthy weight could help your cat live long past the literal ‘prime’ of its life.”
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