Knowing an estimate of your dog's age is important for a number of reasons. Knowing how old a dog is will help you to provide the best care possible, from food choices to exercise options. It's not uncommon to ask, how old is my dog? But, it is virtually impossible to get a very precise answer to this question.
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Chances are, if you adopted your dog from a rescue or shelter, you know his approximate age. Veterinarians will examine the dog before adoption and make an estimated guess as to how old the dog is. Still, it's not an exact science.
Rescued pets don't usually come with a lot of information about their history. Knowing their age can help you decide what diet is best for them, how much exercise they will require, what type of supplements they need and how to provide proper veterinary care.
How Old Is My Dog?
1. Teething Stages
Teeth are first thing you should check when trying to figure out your dog's age because a dog's teeth are a great indicator of their age.
Puppies are usually fairly easy to spot, but their teeth can tell you what stage of puppyhood the animal is in. If your dog is an adult, his teeth can help you narrow down an approximate age.
Your dog's permanent teeth will come in at around 5 months of age. The back molars are the last to come in at around 5-7 months. If your dog has all of his permanent teeth, you'll know that he is not a young puppy.
At about 1 year of age, you will begin to notice bumps and ridges developing on the top of the front teeth. Between 3-4 years of age these bumps and ridges will be about 1/2 worn down. During this stage of life you will also notice tartar beginning to build up.
Note: Keep in mind that dogs who chew aggressively have been abused or have dental health issues may have worn these bumps and ridges down earlier than the average dog.
2. Teeth Health
Tartar buildup on a dog's teeth will get thicker and darker as the dog ages. You will notice the brownish tartar build up on the canine teeth in the photo above.
By the time your dog is 7 years old, the bumps and ridges on the top of his front teeth will be completely worn down. If the top of a dog's front teeth are flat, he is probably well into his adult years.
Cracked or loose teeth is another sign of aging in dogs. Just remember that these dental health problems could also be caused by poor nutrition, abuse or early onset dental disease so you would need to rule those out first.
3. Signs of Arthritis
Another sign that your dog is aging could be joint pain and mobility issues. These problems could also be due to an injury or health condition, so be sure to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian if you notice any discomfort.
However, in many cases, signs of joint pain and arthritis can be easily distinguished in a dog. Given how primarily senior dogs only will suffer from this degenerative disease, it's likely that an arthritic dog is 6 years or old.
4. Check the Eyes
Certain condition of eyes on a dog can be a somewhat reliable way to tell a dog's age. For example, cloudy eyes is generally a sign of aging in dogs. If your dog's eyes look cloudy like in the above picture, he is likely a senior dog. Like with other signs, this could also mean that the dog has cataracts or other eye problems, so be sure to mention this problem to your vet.
5. Fur Condition
You may also be able to answer the question how old is my dog by looking at your pet's skin and coat. Lightening of the fur will occur as a dog ages. If you notice white or light fur around the dog's eyes, muzzle or chest area, it could be a sign that he is reaching the senior stage of life. Lightening of the fur may also be the result of stress and anxiety in dogs.
In conclusion, if you haven't already noticed, none of these suggestions are 100% accurate and it's not easy to tell how old a dog is by yourself. The best thing that you can do is to observe your dog's behavior, evaluate his appearance and try to put all of the information together to form an educated guess of your dog's age or consult with a vet.