How Do Dogs Really Age?

Over time, families get older. It’s a common fact. Children age and graduate from school. Parents retire. And your family dog is no exception. But how do they really age?

Perhaps you’ve heard the myth about dog years. You know, the whole idea of a 3-year-old dog being equivalent to that of a 21-year-old human? Well, the truth is, a dog’s age rate is more complicated than that.

Dogs of different breeds and sizes age at different rates, and that rate can increase or decrease depending on the dog's age (as shown in the chart below).There are a number of reasons why dog families should stay aware of these varying age rates.

Important Age Facts for Dog Families
• Puppies are going through their fastest growth spurt for their first year (or even their first two years for larger breeds). During that time, your dog should be fed complete and balanced puppy food. It’s not a good idea to feed him food that is meant for a full-grown dog. Puppy food, specifically, can help contribute to a well-balanced, healthy diet for your growing pup.

• Keep in mind that large breed puppies have special nutritional needs, which include the need to manage caloric intake to help maintain an ideal body condition. Keeping your large breed puppy lean helps keep muscular and skeletal growth rates at an ideal pace.

• Dogs that typically weigh 50 pounds or more when full-grown are large breeds. That means they are considered puppies for up to 2 full years. You should manage them as puppies for that entire length of time.

• Even though large breed dogs take longer to reach full maturity, they may also show signs of growing older sooner than other dogs. Very large dogs can become senior canines as early as 5 years.

Aging is a natural part of life, for humans, and for dogs. So during the course of your dog’s life, make sure the entire family works together to help manage the dog’s health properly. Take a look at the chart below for more details.

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