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What to Expect When Your Dog Turns 1 Year Old

Lindsay Tigar  |  July 5, 2023

You made it through the puppy stage. Congrats! Here’s what to expect for their health, development—and expenses.

Though new human parents might argue the first year of a baby’s life is more challenging than a dog’s, it’s still a rollercoaster from those sleepy puppy days to the toddler woes. During the first year of your pup’s life, you likely navigated crate training, many vet visits for vaccinations and reproductive health procedures, not to mention puppy school.

Now that your dog has graduated to ‘adulthood,’ their developmental and health changes and expenses will shift. 

“We noticed some big differences in Norman — who still has quite a bit of puppy energy at 18 months,” says HerMoney CEO Jean Chatzky.  “Two in particular were allergies and some gastric issues. It took quite a few visits to our vet to get onto a regimen that works for him. Fortunately, our pet insurance covered it.”

SUBSCRIBE: Yes, we have some brilliant puppy insights. But we also cover saving, investing, career negotiation and much more. Never miss a beat by subscribing to our newsletters, and become part of the HerMoney family!

All pups are different, but they share a slough of essential milestones and financial considerations. Here’s a look at some of the considerations you’ll have once your pup makes their first lap around the sun:

First Birthday Dog Milestones 

Many puppy parents will scroll through photos from bringing their tiny doggo home. So tiny, so sweet — somehow able to fit into the palm of your hand. Depending on the breed, that same puppy is now as much as six times bigger! As you search for birthday cake recipes for pups, also keep an eye out for these milestones: 

By the time a dog is one year old, they’ve likely reached their full adult size, says veterinarian Dr. Jonalyn Gagliardi at the Boston Veterinary Clinic. However, they may continue to fill out and gain muscle mass until they are about two. Your pup should also have all of its adult teeth by this age.

“If the dog has not been spayed or neutered, they may reach sexual maturity around one year old,” she continues. “It is important to discuss spaying or neutering with your veterinarian to prevent unwanted litters and potential health problems.”

As a young adult, Dr. Gagliardi says a one-year-old dog will likely have a lot of energy and require plenty of exercise and playtime. “A one-year-old dog should have already gone through basic obedience training and socialization to learn how to behave appropriately with other dogs and people,” she adds.

Changes in Your One-Year-Old Dog’s Routine 

Say buh-bye to the puppy lifestyle, and hello to the toddler, teenager and adult shifts and developments. Once your dog has passed the one-year mark, you will likely need to adjust their routine and lifestyle. Here are a few to consider:

Switch from Puppy to Adult Kibble 

Veterinarian Matthew M. Capitanio, DVM says dietary requirements for dogs change after 12 months of age, so all one-year-old dogs should be transitioned from puppy food to adult foods. “Not all food makers are the same; thus, not all ‘adult’ labeled dog foods are equal, nor are the ingredients they use,” he says. 

Generally speaking, normal one-year-old dogs’ protein requirements decrease from 25% to around 20%. “This is one rule of thumb to employ as you compare foods,” he says. “Before any change, consult your veterinarian to ensure your new food choice is adequate.”

Increase Exercise 

At one year of age, small and medium-sized dog’s growth plates have closed, making it safer for your dog to participate in longer runs and hikes, says Dr. Angie Krause, a holistic veterinarian. “If your dog is large or giant, wait until closer to 15 months,” she says. “Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the length and intensity of exercise.” (As you increase exercise, keep an eye on your pup to see how they’re doing, and always have plenty of water on hand!)               

Schedule Your Annual Vet Visit

Dr. Capitanio says this is a perfect time to continue the veterinary-patient relationship for your pet. You likely went to the vet more times than you can count in your dog’s first year of life due to vaccinations and getting them spayed or neutered. Now, for most breeds, annual exams are enough. During these visits, Dr. Capitanio says your vet will review body condition scores, accurate weights, vaccinations and parasite testing, such as heartworm and intestinal parasites. 

At this visit, you should discuss any changes in weight, food or behavior with your vet, he adds. It’s also essential to sign up for pet insurance. Though routine preventive care is essential, emergencies happen and having support from a trusted provider can help lower the financial burden when you’re already under emotional stress. 

Focus on Training

For the most part, dogs at about one year of age are out of that puppy phase, so if there is unwanted behavior they are experiencing, it will likely progress or continue if there’s no intervention without training, warns Dr. Grant Little, DVM, a veterinarian at Arlington Pet Hospital

“It’s important to start training young to ensure you have a well-behaved dog,” he says. “Once they are one year old, those unwanted behaviors can become more destructive due to their size.”                                                                            

How to Budget for Veterinary Care for a One-Year-Old Dog

Dr. Gagliardi says as a pet owner; it is crucial to be prepared for potential health issues and the associated costs, especially as your dog gets older. For most breeds, a one-year-old pup won’t require many expenses beyond annual check-ups and preventive care, including vaccinations and heartworm and flea/tick medications. 

However, emergencies happen, so setting aside some funds for the worst-case scenario is important. “Accidents and illnesses can occur at any time, and the cost of emergency care can vary widely depending on the specific issue and the location of the veterinary clinic,” she says. “Emergency care can cost thousands of dollars, so it is important to be prepared for unexpected expenses.”

Make sure to study the breed of dog you have, too, as some breeds are more expensive than others. For example, “Brachycephalic” breeds or shortened flat-faced appearing dogs (i.e., French Bulldogs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Pugs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels) can have congenital or hereditary issues as stenotic nares, elongated soft palate and/or hypoplastic trachea, which may severely alter their ability to breath, Dr. Capitanio says. “Other breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs and Rottweilers, are prone to hip dysplasia or abnormal laxity in the hip joints, after orthopedic malformations from genetic predispositions,” he continues. “Hip dysplasia can commonly result in lameness and gait abnormalities which can require long-term medical management or surgical intervention.”

How to Think About Pet Insurance for a One-Year-Old Dog

Dr. Gagliardi says pet insurance can be a helpful way to manage unexpected veterinary costs and ensure that your one-year-old dog has access to the care they need. Here are some things she suggests to keep in mind when shopping around for the best provider:

  • Age of the dog: It is generally easier to enroll a younger dog in a pet insurance plan, as they are less likely to have pre-existing conditions that may limit coverage or increase premiums.
  • Coverage options: Review the coverage options and exclusions of any pet insurance plan you consider. Some plans may limit coverage for specific conditions or treatments or exclude certain breeds or conditions altogether.
  • Cost: Consider the monthly premium and deductible of any pet insurance plan, the reimbursement rate and annual or lifetime maximum benefit. Be sure to compare plans from different providers to find the best value for your needs and budget.
  • Your personal preferences and risk tolerance: Some pet owners prefer to pay for veterinary care out of pocket, while others prefer the peace of mind that comes with having insurance coverage. Consider your preferences and risk tolerance when deciding about pet insurance.


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