An Interesting Look at Canine Lifespans and Health

Do you love caring for animals? If you do, then do you love having dogs at home too? Well, dogs are one of the most popular pets, because they’ve been hailed as “man’s best friend” (Although I’d like to say that cats are so cute too, and they’re man’s best friend as well). In this article, we will discuss a mix of interesting canine-related items, among which include a dog’s lifespan, how each year in a dog’s life compares to “human years”, and what are the best ways to keep your dogs healthy for years to come.

Comparing a Dog’s Years to Human Years

Since the 1950’s, there’s this popular calculation, or assumption, of how a dog was in human years.  This popular notion stresses that one dog year is equivalent to 7 human years. Even though this formula for calculating dog years to human years has been around for 70 years already, the reality has not been definite, or settled, this doesn’t stop many folks from defaulting to the 7-year rule.

One explanation for how this formula got invented or calculated is that the 7:1 ration seems to have been based in the statistic that people lived to around 70 years, and dogs to about 10 years.

However, one veterinarian that I recently talked with says that this way of calculating dog years to human years is just a marketing ploy of sorts. The seasoned vet says that the calculation was formed as way for educate the public on how fast a dog ages as compared to humans, mainly from a health standpoint.  

So, How Do You Calculate Dog Years to Human Years?

Okay, so how do you properly calculate or compute dog years to human years? As a general guideline our friends at the American Veterinary Association breaks down the computation to this: 15 human years equals the first year of a medium-sized dog’s life.

Year two for a dog is equal to around 9 years of a human’s life. And, after that each human year will be approximately 5 years for a dog. So, how did these veterinarians, and the other researchers, come up with these figures?

Well, there are several aspects to consider, so it’s not possible to precisely pin things down. However, the veterinarians say that cats and small dogs are usually considered “senior” at 7 years old, but we all know that they still got a lot of life left in them at that age.

And, larger breed dogs usually have shorter lifespans as compared to smaller breeds, which are often considered as senior when they reach 5 or 6 years old. Actually, the “senior” classification is based on the fact that pets age quicker than people, and most vets start seeing more age-related issues during these years. Plus, contrary to popular belief, dogs do not age at a rate of 7 human years for each dog year.

Take for example the majestic Great Dane. The average life expectancy for this breed of dog is around 7 to 10 years. Thus, a 4-year old Great Dane would be aged 35 in human years (but this is just a rough estimate).  

Now, why do smaller dogs live longer than big dogs? I think no research has yet to fully explain the relationship between body mass and a dog’s lifespan. Generally speaking, just like whales and elephants, large mammals often tend to live longer than small ones, like mice and other rodents. So, why do smaller dogs have a longer lifespan than large dogs?

One canine expert says that larger dogs age at an accelerated pace, and their lives often seem to unwind in fast motion. The expert also concludes that every 4.4 pounds of body mass reduces a dog’s life expectancy by around a month.

Although the reason why is still unknown up to this day, the expert puts forward several possibilities, including the notion that larger dogs may fall prey to age-related illnesses and diseases sooner, and that the accelerated growth of larger dogs may lead to a higher likelihood of abnormal cell growth and death from diseases like cancer. More scientists plan future studies to fully explain the link between dog growth and mortality. 

Oh before we end this topic, did you know that people have been comparing dog years to human years for centuries already? Like in 1268, a saying was inscribed by artisans at the Westminster Abby in London, which goes like this” “If the reader wisely considers all that is laid down, he will find here the end of primum mobile; a hedge lives for 3 years, add dogs and horses, and men, stags and ravens, eagles, enormous whales, the world: Each one following triples the years of the one before”.

Following this ancient calculation, a dog lives to 9 years, a man to 80 years. If these statistics were accurate, between 1268 and the middle of the 20th century, dogs had a year trimmed of their lifespan, and man lost almost a decade!

3 Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy

Instead of sulking, and worrying about what the right calculation is for assessing 

dog years to human years, why not do your very best to keep your dogs healthy? Thus, here are 3 ways to keep your canine friends healthy and strong.

For starters, research your dog’s diet. For most dogs, a high-quality diet, whether from your kitchen, or from a canned food, is essential. But, don’t just read labels or recipes, and instead read your dog.

Unpleasant odors, stomach problems and dull hair are but a few of the signs that your dog doesn’t agree to the food that’s given to him. So, if this is the case, then change your dogs menu, and talk to your vet about the best food for your dog.

Second, stay educated. The good thing today is that dog owners have more resources than ever before. So, use all these available resources. For example, dog food recalls often appear on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter before they reach the news. And, scientific papers on canine health are also readily available on the Internet.  

And third, to prepare for any emergency, save money for your dog’s medical care, as well as consider purchasing a pet insurance policy for your canine friend, and have a credit card reserved for your furry friend’s medical care!

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