For practical purposes, rather than attempt to calculate age equivalents to humans, this task force suggests that life stage should be defined not just by age, but also by characteristic (e.g., puppy, senior, geriatric) as described in Table 1 below. Life stage divisions are arbitrary; however, they do provide a framework for creating an individualized plan to allow preventive care specific to each dog’s needs at the appropriate time. Life stages have been designated differently in various contexts. For example, nutrient profiles are broken down into two categories (or life stages) by the American Association of Feed Control Officials
: growth and reproduction, and adult maintenance.1
Some authors have further divided the stages prior to adulthood with regard to behavior and development.2
This report’s focus is on stages that might require different approaches to wellness care. The spectrum of life stages is affected by both the size and breed of the dog.3–5 Recognition of predicted breed lifespan permits accurate targeting of life-stage–specific wellness care. The wellness plan tables (Tables 2 and 3) currently group some stages together. As evidence becomes more robust, the approach to each stage may be refined.
Proposed Definition of Life Stages
*See section in text titled “Individualized Approach to the Veterinary Visit.” Conduct testing based on signalment and findings on physical exam and in history.