How Old is My Puppy? How a Veterinarian Makes Their Best Estimate
If you just adopted a new dog, you may be asking yourself, “How old is my puppy?” It can be difficult to tell on your own, but it’s must-know information. Not only will half the people you meet on a walk ask you, but your dog’s age can have a big influence on his:
- Activity level
- Required medications
- Dietary needs
You don’t have to guess! Your veterinarian can give you a close estimate.
If you brought home a new fur baby, it’s time to schedule an appointment! A check-up is a must for any new pet. Give Cinco Ranch Vet a call at 281-693-7387 to see how healthy your dog is, get his first shots, and receive an age estimate.
First Steps to Determining a Dog’s Age…
Start with the Information You Were Given
If you’ve adopted from a shelter, were given a dog by a family member, or adopted from Craigslist or a flyer, it may be possible you know exactly how old your dog is already. The family member or original owners can likely tell you, and shelters often keep detailed records on dogs dropped off by previous owners or that came in from other shelters.
This is information you can relay to your vet to help them make their estimate.
Know How Dogs Age—by Breed and Size
Different sizes and breeds of dogs age differently. Larger dogs stay in puppyhood longer. They tend to be considered puppies until they are 2 years old, while smaller and medium-size dogs are thought to be adults by 15 months at the latest.
It’s also important to look at just how long different-sized dogs live. Large dogs have shorter lifespans; Saint Bernards, for example, tend to live between 8 and 10 years. English Springer Spaniels—medium-sized dogs—generally live 10 to 14 years, and Yorkshire terriers reach the age of about 16. Knowing these ages and when your pup might reach senior status can help you determine his age now.
How Your Vet Estimates the Age of Your Puppy
Determining the exact age of a puppy is much easier to do than estimating the age of an older dog.
Teeth provide a wealth of information! For example, milk (or baby) teeth only start to appear at one month old. Your pup’s permanent canine teeth arrive at about five months, and the rest of his teeth, including back molars, will come in over the next two months. As your pup nears one year old, ridges and bumps will be visible along their incisors, but these will wear down as they age.
Puppies, in general, are easy to spot due to their rambunctious nature.
Large paws and ears, loose skin, and, of course, small size are all signs that a dog is still in puppyhood.
How Your Vet Estimates the Age of a Dog Past Puppyhood but Not Yet a Senior
As a dog gets older, it can be a bit more difficult to pinpoint his age.
Tooth wear is a great indicator: The ridges of a one-year-old are about half worn away by four years old. By seven years, those ridges and bumps will be completely gone.
Dental disease can also be an indicator, but breed type and size come into play here. For example, smaller dogs tend to be more prone to dental disease than large pups. This isn’t an exact science, however. Although tartar tends to build up starting around age four, some dogs won’t get tartar until they’re seniors.
Looking at changes in your pup’s teeth and behavior can help narrow down his age, but during this time period, it can be hard for even a vet to have an exact answer to the question, “How old is my dog?”
How Your Vet Estimates the Age of Your Senior Dog
Breed and Size
For each breed and size of dog, there is a different year at which they reach “senior” status. For example, a larger dog that doesn’t live as long as a smaller dog may hit senior status at only age six.
Signs of a senior dog that a vet looks for include:
- Hearing or vision loss
- Fat pads on the lower back or elsewhere on the body
- Fur turning white or gray
- Decreased muscle
- Cloudy eyes
Less—or less enthusiastic—playtime can also be a big indicator of a senior dog.
At this age, special diet, medications, and extra care may be needed to ensure your pup’s health. If you notice cloudy eyes, a limp, indoor “accidents” even though he’s housebroken, or cataracts, make an appointment with a vet for your senior pup. Even though they are less active at this age, there are plenty of ways to help them be more comfortable in their golden years.
Why Age Matters
Knowing the age of your puppy is essential to taking care of your newest family member because age is vital to understanding their needs, from dietary to play! If you’re unsure what diet your dog may need based on their age, ask your vet for suggestions. Knowing how old your pup is can also help you prepare for his senior years when it comes to medication, comfort, and overall medical needs.
If you recently brought home a new puppy or dog, schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your veterinarian. We’ll help ensure your new pup is healthy, administer their first shots, spay or neuter them, and provide them with a microchip and an age estimation. Call us at 281-693-7387 to schedule your dog’s first appointment. We’re looking forward to meeting them!
The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital
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