Tips on Guessing Your Dog’s Age

It's not uncommon for someone to adopt a dog and not be sure how old he is. Once dogs are adults they are difficult to age. Factors that can help age a dog include:

  • Tooth development – Dogs get their adult teeth at known approximate ages and therefore can be used to help "age" a dog. However, by six months of age, dogs have all their adult teeth making it very difficult to "age" a mature dog.
  • Tartar development – The condition of the teeth can be helpful as dogs will develop tartar and calculus with time. However, the rate of tartar development varies from dog to dog and can be difficult to use.
  • Size – Evaluation of a dogs size to determine if they are full grown can help "age" a dog. This may be difficult in some dogs, especially mixed breed dogs, as you don't know what their true adult size is supposed to be.
  • Attitude – In some cases, this can be somewhat helpful in situations where a dog really "acts like a puppy". However, this is not very reliable as some dogs will act like "puppies" all their life or mature late. Some puppies may have a calm demeanor at an early age making them appear older.
  • Gray Hair – Some dogs will have graying of hair on the face, especially around the muzzle. It is not reliable at dogs can gray at different ages, just like people.
  • Eye changes – As a dog ages, the lens of the eye becomes more dense and makes the pupil look "cloudy". This change is a normal aging change called lenticular sclerosis. This change occurs most often around 5 – 6 years of age.

    All of the factors above have limitations. Many times, aging an adult dog will be based on a combination of the all of the above factors combined with experience of seeing lots of dogs of which you know the ages.

    If you want to know your dogs age, ask someone with lots of animal experience such as your veterinarian.

  • Tip on Finding Lost Dogs and Finding their Owners

    A recent article in the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) journal was about "search methods that people use to find owners of lost pets." Here are some tips that may help you if you have lost a pet.

    This article highlighted the results of a survey done of 188 individuals who found lost pet in Dayton Ohio.

    The results of this survey showed that only 38% of pets were reunited with their owners. The most 5 common method pet owners were found included:

  • Information provided by an animal agency
  • Placement of a newspaper ad
  • Walking the neighborhood
  • Signs in neighborhood
  • Information on pet tag

    One thing that I noticed is that most people that found a pet did not realize that it is free to advertise a lost pet in most local papers. This was the #2 method of reuniting pets. If you find a pet – be sure to advertise with your local paper!

    JAVMA, vol 230, no. 12, June 15, 2007, page 1835 – 1840.

  • Dog Tips for Finicky Dogs: What is Your Role?

    How do you respond when your dog refuses to eat? Do you pet him, console him, hand-feed him, etc.? If you are giving your dog positive reinforcements when he is finicky, he may avoid eating until he gets the extra attention he desires.

    One common method for feeding finicky dogs is that you put the food in your dog's bowl, and walk away. When your dog is hungry, he will instinctually eat for nourishment. Do not turn mealtime into a bargain for attention.

    Are you able to provide your dog with routine? Most dogs like routine. Do you feed him at relatively the same time each day, or does your schedule prevent you from giving your dog regular feeding times? Dogs prefer routine. Unpredictable feeding times may be stressful to your dog and his gastrointestinal system. In these situations, an automated feeder may be ideal for your canine friend. The feeder can be set to a particular time, at which it will open for your dog to eat.

    For more information, please read How to Encourage Your Picky Dog to Eat.

    Tips on Choosing Corrective Dog Glasses

    Most dogs with failing eyesight learn to adapt to seeing less. His owners are usually instructed to avoid rearranging furniture or making drastic changes to the home that will confuse a dog with poor eyesight. Dogs losing their sight are often easily frightened and may be more prone to biting if they are startled. Handling the dog's disability can be challenging and even frustrating, but a pair of prescription Doggles can end that stress.

    A veterinary ophthalmologist can view the anatomy of the eye to determine the dog's prescription strength. This prescription is then sent to Doggles, where the glasses are made, often for less than $100.

    Prescription Doggles are giving sight back to many dogs, such as those who have had a natural decline in the quality of their eyesight, dogs with cataracts, and dogs who are farsighted due to cataracts surgery without lens implants.

    Keeping Your Dog Water From Freezing in the Winter

    Here is a tip from one of our users:

    For a water bowl for outdoor dogs in winter – I use the 5 gallon heated flat sided heated buckets. My two dogs are 80 and 100 lbs.

    Do you have a special pet tip? Click here to submit your own dog tips and we may publish and share them with our users!

    Tip on Scrapbooking Your Dog’s Silhouette

    Here is a tip from one of our users:

    After reading your idea for scrapbooking, I thought I'd share my technique for making very attractive silhouettes of my dogs. These are great pieces of classic art when nicely framed, and considered historically tasteful! 😉 Not that "Dogs Playing Poker" isn't considered art….

    1. Take a full-length profile digital photo of your dog on a sunny day. You need enough light for good contrast so the outline of the dog is clear. (You can have someone pose with your dog to hold the head, adjust the feet just so, and maybe even hold up the tail. You're going for a dog show-type pose. The person in the picture won't be seen in the finished silhouette.)

    2. Print the photo out onto plain paper. Be sure to make the dog the size you want in the silhouette.

    3. Glue the photo onto black paper; art paper, construction paper, etc.

    4. Cut out around the outline of your dog in the photo. Cut tufts of grass (or cattails or other items appropriate for your dog's breed or personality) to add character and depth to the silhouette.

    5. Turn the cutout over. You now have the black outline.

    6. Glue the black figure to your paper background. Traditionally this is white.

    7. Add a mat, frame, and hang proudly in your home.


    Tip on Dealing with Hair Mats in Your Dog

    Removing hair mats is fraught with potential complications. Many mats are firmly attached to the skin, so you must be extremely careful not to cut the skin as you cut off the mat. Many small mats can be removed with a thorough brushing. If mats remain, try to make the mat smaller by brushing the hair near the mat.

    Once you are sure that the mat can only be removed by cutting the hair, then go for the scissors. Clippers are the safest and best way to remove matted hair. Unfortunately, most people do not own clippers and must make do with scissors. Be very careful. For severely matted pets, it is easier and safer to see a groomer for professional help.

    Yard Safety Tip

    There are several possible hazards in your yard that can cause injury or create problems for your dog. Some of the possible hazards include:

  • Sharp nails or wires on fencing
  • Loose fence boards or areas where pets can sneak out, around or under
  • Trash tossed or blown into the yard that may be chewed on or ingested
  • Improperly stored toxins such as rodenticide, slug bait, fertilizer or antifreeze

    For more tips on how to keep your home and garden safe, please read Tips for Dog Proofing Your Home.

  • Tips on Shedding

    Shedding is a continuous process. Reduce your household's overall hairiness by brushing your furry pets on a daily basis. This way more of the fur ends up on your brush, not on your floor!

    Adequate grooming, proper diet and exercise all contribute to a shiny, healthy-looking coat and a happy pet. If your dog appears to be losing a large amount of hair and/or if the coat is dull and dry, see your veterinarian.

    For more information, please read the story Shedding in Dogs.

    Tips on Keeping Your Dog Out of the Litter Box

    Tips on Keeping Your Dog Out of the Litter Box

    For some reason, cat stool is particularly attractive to dogs. Whether in secrecy or plain view, your dog may have performed a litter box raid.

    How do you keep your dog out of the litter box?

    The best way to keep your dog out of your cats box is to prevent access.

    Prevention is the best medicine: a baby gate works well in most cases to restrict access to the room containing the litter box. Other methods include installing a hook-and-eye mechanism or cord on the door and propping it just wide enough so the cat may come and go freely. Some cat lovers also install cat doors on rooms closed off to dogs such as closets, basements or the laundry room. These kitty doors are small wholes that allow the cat access but not the dog.

    For more information on why dogs eat things they shouldn't, please read the article Coprophagia.