Adopting a rescue dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Every dog deserves a home, and adopting a dog that’s already out of puppyhood can be an excellent choice for a companion since they don’t need constant monitoring the way a small puppy might. That said, adopting a dog without a complete medical history comes with its own set of complications. Having a rough idea of your dog’s age can go a long way in ensuring they get the best medical care possible and live a long and healthy life. Here are four tips for determining how old your dog actually is.
Look at their body shape
Like Humans, Dog’s bodies continue to change even after they reach maturity, their metabolism slowing down over time. Older dogs tend to develop fat pads around their lower back and lose muscle around their spine, which can give them a bony or sway-backed look. Their coats also tend to lose color and turn white, particularly around the muzzle and eyes as they get older, although this method can be tricky since some dogs naturally have those color patterns. Be sure to write down if you notice your dog’s coat is changing in color so you can inform your vet at their next checkup, as this can help them better determine how old your dog truly is
Check their pupils for signs of age
As dogs age, the lens of their eyes develops a cloudy blue film known as Lenticular Sclerosis. While this doesn’t heavily impact their vision, it is a good indicator that your dog is at least middle-aged. That said, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish lenticular sclerosis from cataracts. So if your dog’s eyes are looking very cloudy or pale in appearance, you should check with your vet to make sure it’s not something more serious you should be treating.
Check out their Teeth
Most dogs get all their teeth by the time they are six months old. This makes it easy for vets to determine your dog’s age before then, but things get a bit murkier once all the teeth are in. It can sometimes be helpful to look at tarter and tooth decay, but often, these conditions have less to do with your dog’s age and more to do with their genetics or past chewing habits.
Do a DNA Test
If you’ve tried everything else and you still don’t have a clue, try using a dog DNA kit to determine your dog’s genetic age. This can be a bit expensive, but the peace of mind is priceless for those desperate to know how long they have with their furry friend. They can also alert you to possible health risks in your dog’s future so you can better coordinate with your veterinarian to screen for particular conditions. You will probably never get an exact date for when your dog first came into the world but having some idea of how long your dog has been on the planet is crucial to making sure they live the rest of their lives safe, happy, and well cared for, which is far more important than knowing their birthdate.