# How old is your pet?

04 January 2015

Our pets don’t age at the same rate we do. Here’s a more accurate formula for working out your dog or cat’s ‘human’ age.

Our pets don’t age at the same rate we do. Here’s a more accurate formula for working out your dog or cat’s ‘human’ age.

Most people calculate how old their pets are in human years by multiplying their age by seven – for example, a one-year-old dog or cat would be seven years old in human years. But the arithmetic doesn't really add up – seven-year-old humans aren't able to reproduce, while dogs and cats can produce litters at one year old. In fact, they can still do so at 10 years old – which is not the case with 70-year-old women!

Large breeds tend to live shorter lives and by the time they reach five years old they’re already considered senior dogs. Medium-size breeds take around seven years to reach senior stage, while small and toy breeds aren’t seen as seniors until age 10. A dog’s average lifespan is 12 or 13 years, but it varies depending on the breed.

Larger breeds generally have a shorter lifespan. Aging happens faster during a dog’s first two years and most veterinarians agree the best way to calculate the equivalent human age of your pet is with the following formula:

Assume that a one-year-old dog is equal in age to a 16-year-old human and a two-year-old dog is equal in age to a 24-year old human. Then add five years for every year after that. Take a look at the handy chart to double-check your calculation.

Cats are a little different

Now let’s take a look at the formula for calculating feline age in human years. Cats generally live 12 to 15 years, although outdoor cats live an average of around 10 years. Assume a one-year-old cat is equal in age to a 15-year-old human and a two-year-old cat is equal in age to a 24-year-old human. Then add four years for every year after that. Example: A four-year-old cat would be 32 in human years.

Tips for owners of senior pets

Owners know their dogs better than anyone and you shouldn’t hesitate to bring significant changes to the attention of your vet.

Changes in appetite, weight, water intake, urination or defecation should be investigated for underlying causes and so potential treatments can be discussed.

While some slowing down is expected, older dogs should enjoy good quality of life and a strong bond with their owners. Remember, old age isn’t a disease!