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Saturday, March 28, 2009; 12:00 AM

Counting Up the Years

Dear Readers: Do you think your 3-year-old dog is 21 IN OUR YEARS? Guess what? Not so! Dogs reach adulthood within the first few years of life. Generally, at 1 a dog is 12 human years old, at 2 it is 24 years old, and for each "dog" year after, add four to get the "guesstimate" in human years.

Smaller dogs generally lead longer lives than larger dogs. Besides size, breed, genetics and nutrition, environment plays a key role in the aging process.

If you need help, there are several online calculators that will determine your dog's age in human years. If Fido or Fran acts like a senior citizen but is really only middle-age, there might be something else going on with his or her health, and a visit to the vet is in order. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Warm weather (in some parts of the country) brings pests like ticks and fleas in many areas. Pets are easily protected with products available at the vet's office. So, check pets regularly, and talk with your vet about the appropriate treatment. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: My mom insists that feeding her dog cat food is OK. I'm sure it's not. What do the experts say? -- Delores R., Smithville, Texas

You are right, Delores! Pet experts say that the nutritional requirements of dogs and cats are entirely different. Cat food has lots of protein, while dog food usually is grain-based. Don't feed a dog cat food or a cat dog food! There are plenty of choices available. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Arlene Broslow of Oxnard, Calif., sent a photo of Charlie, a 4-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, sitting inside her husband's dropped drawers (his shorts are on the floor and the dog is sitting inside).

Arlene says: "When just a pup, he feared the vacuum cleaner. To escape the ravages of that machine, he took refuge in my husband's 'dropped drawers'! He has expanded my volunteerism to doing therapy dog work because his temperament and demeanor are well-suited to comforting and bringing joy to patients in hospitals and care facilities. We service four facilities, visiting each twice a month. You would be surprised at the boost the clients receive and the satisfaction we get from this service."

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