Dogs and their ancestry can be traced back 40 million years to the Miacis, a carnivorous tree climber. An animal with five fingers like a weasel was an ancestor of the cat, the raccoon, the bear, the hyena, the civet, and the dog.

Small or medium-sized dogs typically live to be around 15 years old, and large dogs live to be around ten years old. A fertile bitch can produce about two litters a year with an average of six to ten puppies. The pups grow in their mother’s womb until they are born, also known as whelped. They drink their mother’s milk until they are weaned, at which point they can eat food. Weaning can occur as early as week three, but puppies should not be weaned after week seven.

A puppy’s baby teeth are also known as milk teeth which come in between weeks three and six and are mostly incisors and canines. By the third month, the first of the permanent teeth comes in by the third month and the puppy should have all his teeth by the seventh month.

A ten month old dog is sexually mature. Smaller bitches go into their first heat and may mate at a younger age than larger bitches. Dogs are sexually mature beforehand; a dog usually does not reach full growth until he is a year old, and sometimes even later. A puppy becomes a mature dog when he is one year old. Bitches generally come into heat every six months and mate within the three week period of heat.

When a dog meets another dog, the position of his ear will indicate whether or not he is interested in the other dog. If a dog’s ears are up, it means he is probably focused on the other dog and happy, but if the ears point forward, it means the dog is alert. If a dog wags its tail holding it up, it means the dog is happy and confident. If a dog drops its tail and stands still, it means the dog is apprehensive. If the dog sticks its tail between its legs, that means the dog is scared.

If a dog growls or pulls its lips back to expose its teeth when it encounters someone, even another dog, it is threatening. If he shows his teeth without growling, then the dog may be ready to bite or attack. Male dogs establish territories by marking areas with urine and a scent that comes from their anal glands. A dog will defend its territory against intruders.

As a dog ages, the first sign is that the eyes begin to weaken, which is why they become cloudy and cataracts can form in the lens. Their fur slowly begins to turn gray, and it is apparent that older dogs suffer from various aches and pains. Uncomfortable older dogs can become agitated and even bite family members. As the dog’s systems break down with old age, it is preparing for death.

When a dog has had a stroke, his kidneys fail and he stops eating, or other dogs around him start biting and pushing him. This means that the time of death has probably come, and if the dog is suffering, your vet will know if your pet should be euthanized.

Pets are an integral part of our lives today, so losing them can be very painful. As difficult as the death of a pet can be, there are ways to celebrate the life of a dog.

There are special websites for virtual pet memorial products online, such as pet cremation urns and grave markers, to give people the opportunity to honor their pets, helping us to grieve a little longer.

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