Aging pet.

A pet’s first year is notable for many reasons. Chief among them is the sheer amount of growth and change in a relatively short period of time. Pets age at an accelerated rate that is, sadly, much faster than our own. 

Life Stages, Not Ages

Because there is so much variability between individual pets with highly specific medical histories, genetics, experiences, and environments, it can often be better to refer to a pet’s life stage instead of a certain age.

Dogs go through several life stages that have the following approximations:

  • Puppy (newborn to 6 months)
  • Junior (6-9 months)
  • Adult (1-6 years)
  • Mature (7-9 years)
  • Senior (9-13 years)
  • Geriatric (13 years and above)

Dog breed and size can play important roles in how pets age. For example, large breeds tend to age faster than small breeds. This acceleration might mean that a large breed may reach their senior years much earlier than a smaller breed, and possibly shorter lifespans. 

Our feline friends tend to follow a similar arc:

  • Kitten (0-6 months)
  • Junior (6 months-2 years)
  • Prime (2-6 years)
  • Mature (6-10 years)
  • Senior (10-14 years)
  • Geriatric (14 years and above)

Because cat breeds are a bit more consistent than dog breeds, it is more likely to assume that cats born around the same time are aging at a close rate. 

Pets Age 

If a pet’s birthday is unknown, professionals can still determine their life stage. We may look at the quality and appearance of their teeth and gums, coat and skin, behavior, and overall physical health. We can also evaluate their sight, hearing, and mobility for further insight. These are, of course, only approximations, but an understanding of lifestage can help direct treatment. 

Some animals age faster in the absence of routine veterinary care, proper, age-appropriate nutrition, and if there are constant threats to their health, safety, and well-being. Also, pets age faster when they are overweight or obese, suffering from pain, and short on daily mental and physical enrichment.

We want your pet to live the longest, healthiest life possible. If you have questions or concerns about how pets age, and what you can do to support their overall wellness per lifestage, let us know. Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is always here to help!