A 2019 study by researchers at the University of California San Diego put forth a new method for calculating dog age
How Do Researchers Come Up with Those Numbers?
There are many several factors to consider, so it’s not possible to pin it down precisely, but the AVMA says: “Cats and small dogs are generally considered ‘senior’ at seven years old, but we all know they’ve got plenty of life left in them at that age. Larger-breed dogs tend to have shorter lifespans compared to smaller breeds and are often considered senior when they are 5 to 6 years of age. The ‘senior’ classification is based on the fact that pets age faster than people, and veterinarians start seeing more age-related problems in these pets. Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not age at a rate of 7 human years for each year in dog years.”
This phenomenon has baffled scientists for years, and research has yet to explain the relationship between body mass and a dog’s lifespan.
Generally speaking, large mammals, like elephants and whales, tend to live longer than small ones, like mice. So why do small dogs have a longer average life span than large breeds?
Large dogs age at an accelerated pace, and “their lives seem to unwind in fast motion,” according to researcher Cornelia Kraus, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, speaking to Inside Science. Scientists concluded that every 4.4 pounds of body mass reduced a dog’s life expectancy by about a month. The reason why is still unknown, though Kraus puts forward several possibilities, including that larger dogs may succumb to age-related illnesses sooner and that the accelerated growth of large dogs may lead to a higher likelihood of abnormal cell growth and death from cancer. Scientists plan future studies to better explain the link between growth and mortality
AKC Staff November 20. 2019, AKC website, Accessed November 10, 2022. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-to-calculate-dog-years-to-human-years/
In my opinion simply looking at your dog’s age based on size and weight as a predictor of longevity could not possibly give a truly accurate picture because your dog’s longevity can also be attributed to many things like environmental factors. I.e., A dog who eats grass with pesticide or a dog who lives in a home that has smokers could potentially have a reduced lifespan. A dog might have psychological issues or constant stress that can be a factor in longevity.
What about Breed Genetics. Do dogs with flat faces like pugs who have brachiocephalic issues live shorter lives than say a Maltese that does not? Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a history of heart disease which can also affect longevity.
Will a Golden Retriever who is fed the perfect healthy natural diet, drinks purified water and is not exposed to any chemicals or medications live longer than a Golden Retriever who drinks puddle water(Potential Giardia)chews on pesticide covered grass, eats the cheapest dogfood and lives in a house with chain-smokers have the same life-span or shorter?
My unscientific point is I would not use any age formula as the gospel because there are many other factors other than weight and size.
Can you prolong your Dog's Life?
The answer is unknown, but here are a few healthy things you can do to hopefully extend it
DIET: Feed your dog a healthy nutritionally balanced food. While kibble and wet food have always been the mainstay, Humanization Trends and Millennial Desires have increased the demand for more natural foods that resemble our own diets. instead of extruded kibble, companies like the Farmers Dog and My Ollie create cooked nutritionally balanced foods in a commercial kitchen with the same ingredients we eat. It’s not for people on a very tight budget as these types of meals are much costlier than even premium kibble. Other healthy options include dehydrated food diets like the Honest Kitchen which are convenient and do not require refrigeration.
VETERINARIAN: Regular veterinary visits can help with disease prevention
DENTAL CARE: To prevent dental and gum disease give your dog’s Bully Sticks, brush their teeth and there are even natural plaque prevention products like Healthy Mouth (clinically studied) or Proden Plaque Off that is added to your dog’s water. Your veterinarian can decide when and how often a prophy (Veterinary teeth cleaning) is necessary.
HEALTHIER TREATS: instead of feeding your dog carbohydrate laden dog cookies that contribute to weight gain and have little or no nutritional value try natural protein chews like Turkey Tendons, Steer Sticks and Bully Sticks which have naturally occurring vitamins. Your kitchen can be natures medicine cabinet for your dogs. Fruits like, Apples Peaches, Pears, Melons (Minus the pits) are healthy and brimming with vitamins. Vegetables contain antioxidants. Cooked broccoli, Parsley (Breath Freshener) and dark green leafy vegetables have immune boosting properties.
Senior Dogs need some Extra Care
As we age and become senior’s simple tasks like walking or standing up might be more challenging. Senior dogs may face the same challenges.
Here are some things you can do to help keep your best friend more comfortable during their twilight years.
Provide an orthopedic dog bed with memory foam for support especially for large dogs that have sore joints.
if your dog sleeps in bed with you consider a ramp or stairs to eliminate jumping.
Keep your dog’s weight down so it does not put extra pressure on their joints and heart.
You can assess whether your dogs in pain. Are they hiding, sleeping a lot, do not want to be touched or not have their usual excitement for a walk or some food? Dogs are masters at hiding pain (It’s a survival instinct inherited from the wild). Your veterinarian can assess your dog’s pain level if they have any and they may suggest a supplement or a prescription pain med if necessary.