It may be time to throw out the old dog years rule, you know, the one that says multiply a dog's age by seven to get his "human" age. A 10-year-old dog would be the equivalent of a 70-year-old person under this rule.
Just like us, dogs -- and cats -- are living longer and for many of the same reasons: better medical care, improved diet, and an understanding that couch potatoes with four legs run some of the same health risks as couch potatoes with two.
And also just like us, our pets' longevity needs to be accommodated. Here are some things that those with fur babies should know:
1. Small dogs live longer than big ones.
Chihuahuas, one of the smallest dog breeds, live 15 to years on average. Your Great Dane? Expect to say goodbye to him much sooner.
Our domesticated pets rely on us to feed them and, by all intents and purposes, we have risen to the occasion. At the same time that you shovel into your mouth something from the World Health Organization's bad-for-you list (and you know very well what we're talking about), you will drive out of your way for a bag of the organic good stuff for your dog. No cans of over-processed mystery meats for your big guy, am I right?
3. We lavish love with our wallets.
In 2014, Americans spent $58 billion on their pets and they're on track to spend more than $60.5 billion this year, according to the American Pet Product Association. We spent $6.2 billion on grooming and treats for our pets in 2012 which -- according to The Atlantic -- is more money than Facebook made in advertising revenue that same year. Of the $58 billion we spent in 2014, nearly half was spent on veterinary care, which leads us to ....
4. Everyone has the same messed up health insurance.
Just like Medicare doesn't cover the things that older humans need -- eye glasses, hearing aides, and dental care -- pet insurance generally doesn't work out so great either. Consumer Reports says only in uncommon cases, when a pet required very expensive care, would pet insurance coverage pay for itself. One issue might be the lack of competition. Three companies control 90 percent of the pet insurance market.
Consumer Reports used the lifetime vet bills of Roxy, a 10-year-old relatively healthy beagle, to test whether pet insurance was a good deal. They adjusted Roxy's total bills into present-day dollars and asked the insurers how much their policies would have covered. None of the nine policies they compared would have paid out more than the projected premiums. The picture changed a bit when some hypothetical illnesses were added to Roxy's medical history: chronic arthritis, incontinence as a result of spaying, hypothyroidism, the removal of a benign tumor, and euthanasia. In that case, some policies returned a positive payout. Uh, euthanasia? Isn't that what we are hoping to avoid?
5. Where we go, they go.
Just a decade ago, only 19 percent of owners took their fur babies with them on road trips. Now that number has more than doubled to 37 percent of owners. And after all, retirement is for travel, right?
Also on HuffPost:
Smart, bubbly Layla was surrendered to the shelter by a heartbroken owner whose financial problems had caused her to lose her home. Layla spent about two weeks in the shelter before being adopted by a young couple who were looking forward to having an active dog to visit the dog park and go jogging with.
Nala was surrendered to the shelter because her family did not have time for a dog. She's quite social and became friends with another shelter resident, a little terrier mix named Flynn. Nala and Flynn were adopted together!
A young woman bough Muffy mix but did not want to do the work of house training her. She left the dog with her mother, who did not have time to care for a dog, so Muffy was surrendered to the shelter as a one-year-old. Tiny Muffy spent just six days at the shelter and now lives with a big, happy pit bull in her new home. The two are best friends.
Nanook, who was named by shelter staff after the dog in the 1987 film "The Lost Boys," was found as a stray playing in the parking lot of the local electric company. He was untrained and badly behaved, but after evaluations, shelter staff soon saw a softer side to him and committed him to a strict training program. After several months of boot camp, he was adopted into a wonderful home.
Teddy was picked up as a stray, and his goofy charm and lack of manners were immediately noticed by shelter staff. He constantly jumped on people and was very mouthy, which, given his large size, made potential adopters nervous. Volunteers and staff worked with him on basic obedience and socialization, and after several months he was finally adopted by a brother and sister who had seen his photo online. They were willing to put in the time needed to train Teddy and help him to thrive in a loving environment.