Dog Years to Human Years – Answering The Age Old Question

The question about the age of Man’s best friend has been around for centuries. It is a well-known fact that pets like dogs and cats age much faster than us. However, this conversion of dog years to human years has still not been researched to its full extent. 

So, how can we tell what how aged our dog is? Is there any formula for knowing such things?

Well, this is why I am here. Let’s uncover the mystery of dog years to human years in a way that everybody can understand.

Calculating Dog Years

Prior to the 20th century, it was believed that there were 9 dog years to 1 human year. Come the 20th century and the equation changed to 7 dog years to 1 human year.

After the 20th century gave way to the 21st, the above formula of 7 dog years to 1 human year was rejected by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The AVMA instead gave the following rough equations for calculating dog years:

  • For the 1st year of an average-sized dog, the aging process is 15 times faster than a human being. In other words, for every 15 human years, there is 1 dog year
  • Moving on to the 2nd year, the dog ages nine times faster than a human. the equation becomes 1 dog year to 9 human years
  • From the 3rd year onwards, the rate of aging becomes consistent. Here each dog year is equivalent to 9 years for a human

In short, the formula of 7 dog years to 1 human year is far from perfect. The equations by AVMA are the closest things we have to accurate numbers.

How to calculate dog years to human years?

How Are These Equations Calculated?

Well, there is no precise method of calculation here. Most of the numbers that AVMA gives us are based on clinical trials and simple observations. The aging process in dogs is monitored under carefully controlled environments and then conclusions are drawn.

In the case of dogs, the aging process was monitored by observing the development of aging-related complications. It was seen that dogs develop age-related diseases and complications much faster than humans do. The time it took dogs to develop these problems was then directly compared in the case of an average human. And we got the above-mentioned numbers.

Mind you, these numbers here serve the form of a guideline and not the absolute truth. These numbers are just an indication of how old your dog is, or approximately how much time it has left. As harsh as it may be, but in the world of pets, it is crucial to know how fast they are aging.

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Does Size Affect Aging in Dogs?

This is a tricky question. Not because we don’t know the answer, but because we can’t really describe the reasoning behind it.

Smaller-sized dogs age slower than larger breeds.

It is a fact that smaller sized-dogs age much slower than larger ones but we don’t know why. Research has been conducted and papers have been published… but there is no concrete answer.

It might be that larger dogs put more strain on their body and its systems. Over time, this might have greater impact on their life span. However, this is merely a hypothesis without an explanation.

Also, just because big dogs have a shorter lifespan, it doesn't mean yours will too. There are a lot of factors that determine the lifespan of a dog including its diet, hygiene, safety, and diseases.

Dogs to human years infographics

Why Dogs Age so Fast?

There are several factors that contribute to dogs aging faster. Some of them are:

Higher Rate of Metabolism

Dogs have a much faster metabolism than average humans. A faster metabolism means they digest food faster, produce energy faster, and hence they expend it faster. A higher rate of metabolism is linked to a higher number of free radicals in the body. 

Free radicals are the by-products of metabolic processes taking place in the body. If free radicals are left unchecked, they can disturb the balance of oxidants and free radicals. This imbalance can affect Protein, DNA, and Lipids which can lead to age-related complications appearing much sooner than they should.

Faster Heart Beat

Another factor which slightly causes an imbalance in dog years to human years is their increased heart rate. Increased heart rate means an increased level of stress on the body which can lead to several complications. This high-stress is a reason why dogs age faster as well.

Different Genetics

With everything said, it’s obvious that dogs are not humans. They have different genetics. This can explain why their metabolism is faster and their heart rate is higher. 

These are but a few possible reasons as to why dogs age faster. There can be a whole lot more but sadly, we don’t know much about them yet.

All is not lost

Dogs might age faster than humans but this doesn’t mean that your dog has to face an early death. Following are some of the things that you can do to make sure that your pup lives longer:

Exercising Helps a Lot

Obesity is fatal to not only humans but dogs as well. It is a well-documented fact that most overweight dogs die premature deaths. To make sure this doesn’t happen to yours, get your dog a treadmill or take it to long walks every day. 

Pay Attention to Their Hygiene

I can’t stress this enough, just as humans suffer illnesses from bad hygiene, dogs do too. Keeping your dog clean is the key to avoiding most health-related complications.

The Vet Is Your Dog’s Best Friend

Take your dog to see the vet at least once a month. This the best way to catch problems before they have a chance to mature.

In the end, dogs are different than humans. Sadly, no matter what we do, they live a lot less than us. It is a shame considering how important they are to us. What we can do however is to make sure that their years on Earth are happy and fulfilling. So take your dog to long walks every day, give it healthy and tasty food to eat, and lastly, give it a lot of love and care. If you do all of that, then the question of dog years to human years won’t matter as much.
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