For those of you who have adopted a pet from a shelter or rescued a pet found on the street, you probably want to get an idea of how old they are to ensure you are giving them the best care possible. We adopted a new cat from PAWS recently, a gray boy we renamed Gaston. He’s a little guy, but he has big paws and a large head for his frame. We knew he wasn’t a kitten, but some of his behaviors are similar to those of a kitten. He walks around the house chirping, he kneads everything in site (including us) and he suckles all of our fuzzy blankets. So when we opened his folder and learned that the veterinarian placed him between 2-3 years of age based on the tartar on his teeth, we were a bit surprised.
Not that Gaston’s age matters to us, but it was interesting to learn that vets can estimate the age of cats and dogs by looking at their teeth, so we wanted to learn more and share it with you.
It should not come as a shock to learn that there are differences in your dog’s and cat’s teeth. For starters, dogs keep their baby teeth longer than cats. A pup’s adult teeth start coming in between 4-5 months, while a kitten’s adult teeth start coming in between 3-4 months. Other teeth come in at different times for both, but incisors typically come in first, followed by premolars and then molars. There are exceptions, but this is appears to be true for most breeds according to our research. Knowing this can help you determine the age of your puppy or kitten.
For adult animals, wear and tear of teeth is a way of determining age. New adult teeth (up to one year), tend to be white and clean. Plaque and tartar build up over the next few years, along with some yellowing, and after five years, the teeth start to wear down. Depending on the wear and tartar build up, veterinarians are able to approximate the age of our pets.
If you’re not already focusing on your pet’s oral care, you may want to start. Like human teeth, your pet’s teeth can decay, gingivitis can develop and the sensitivity and pain can affect your cat’s mood and eating habits, not to mention their breath. By brushing your pet’s teeth, giving them dental chews and giving them mouthwash regularly, your pet will live much happier healthy life.
Though looking at your pet’s teeth is a common practice for determining their age, there are other, less invasive methods, but again, their are no guarantees. Age can be also be determined through looking at an animal’s eyes, coat and muscle tone; and for dogs, the method that may work best is the breed, weight and size method, but we’ll save that for another post.
We hope you found this topic interesting. Thanks for visiting.