Determining a Pet’s Approximate Age

Except in puppies and kittens, it can be difficult to estimate the age of a pet.

One of the most common questions presented to a veterinarian on examining a new pet, especially one from the shelter or a stray pet, is the approximate age of the pet. While this is much easier in puppies and kittens, it becomes much more difficult to try and age a pet who is adult or senior. While in equine medicine the length and wear and tear of the teeth may help age a pet, this is not as accurate in small animal medicine.

While the degree of worn teeth, as well as amount of inflammation and periodontal disease may be helpful in  guessing the age, this can sometimes fool even the most astute veterinary eye. In younger pets it is much easier to look at teeth in evaluating the age of a puppy or kitten, where typically most of the permanent teeth have erupted by 6 months of age. Outside of this age range, however, it indeed becomes much more difficult and any age guesses are crude estimates at best.

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