What is the best way to estimate the age of a rescue pet?

We have a Jack Russell that we rescued about 5 years ago. Is there a way we can tell his approximate age? I want to make sure I am giving him the right vitamins and meds, and feeding him appropriately for his age. The vet we saw couldn't tell

Asked by Carla

1 Answer

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This isn’t an exact science but there are some things you can look at to give you a ballpark idea. Firstly, the fur – dog hair turns gray with age just like ours, but they too can have premature graying. Generally, you’ll see changes in hair color around middle age which varies depending on breed and size. Small dogs are middle aged around six to seven years, while giant breeds reach this milestone earlier, from four years. The lens of the eye can also start to become hazy and opaque from six to eight years.

The wear and amount of tartar on the teeth is also a useful indicator of how old a dog is but it too may not be accurate. Most dogs have some tartar on their teeth from three years of age. If you look at the incisors, there can be wear and the gums may start to recede but this is heavily influenced by diet – soft food doesn’t wear the teeth as much as a diet of bones. Dogs that chew rocks or chase tennis balls can also have increased wear on their teeth.

It sounds like your dog wasn’t a puppy when you rescued him, so if you’ve had him for five years he’s very likely to be at least approaching middle age. He’d benefit from a good quality balanced adult dog food and if you feed him that, there’s no need for extra vitamins and minerals. Senior foods can be fed from around seven years so that's another option to consider.
| 06.29.16 @ 11:49
Comment 1  
Carla — Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. We have a senior dog and since we feed her senior dog food, I will feed it to our rescue dog also. I just didn't want to start too soon. He is starting to get just a bit of grey around his snout and his brow. | 07.05.16 @ 22:12
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$commenter.renderDisplayableName() — {comment} | 08.20.17 @ 19:19
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