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How to Determine a Cat's or Dog's Age

  • How to Determine a Cat’s or Dog’s Age. Illustration by Susie Duckworth

Shelters are depositories for animals of all types and ages, from the cute, unweaned kitten whose eyes are barely open to the graying, noble 17-year-old shepherd mix who can hardly stand on his own. How can you figure out the age of an animal who falls somewhere in between these two extremes? Start by looking at the teeth.

Examining teeth is one of the best ways to determine the approximate age of a cat or dog. Look at the degree of growth to determine the ages of kittens and puppies, and look at the degree of wear to determine the ages of adult cats and dogs. The diagram and chart below can help.

Be aware of two things that can throw off your estimate. First, an animal who has received dental care will have better-looking teeth than an animal who has not received such treatment. Second, variations exist among animals, even two from the same litter. Teeth are only a rough indicator of any animal’s actual age.

 View the full "How To" instructional sheet.


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