It's National Dog Day! 7 dog things you want to know

Love your dog? Don't feed it macadamia nuts or guacamole

To celebrate National Dog Day 2014, we have seven canine fun facts and stats, representing the seven years that a dog ages for each calendar year. See if you are surprised:

1) First of all, that's not true. Most dogs do not age the equivalent of seven years for every calendar year.

According to Dogster and the Dog Owner's Manual, dogs of all sizes age comparatively rapidly in the first two years of life. In two years, they are the equivalent of 24 years old. Then small and medium breeds age at a 5 to 1 ratio; large breeds, 6 to 1; and giant breeds, 7 to 1.

"A Great Dane could be considered 'senior' at age 5, while a smaller toy poodle would still be spry at twice that age," the site says.

2) As a nation, we spend billions of dollars each year to feed our dogs. In 2013, $9 billion worth of dry dog food and $2.3 billion of the wet variety was sold in the United States, says the Pet Food Institute.

3) No matter what you feed your dog, avoid guacamole and macadamia nut cookies. They can kill canines.

Avocados contain the substance persin, large amounts of which can be toxic to dogs (but not people), says WebMD. And as few as six macadamia nuts can cause poisoning. Check out the other foods that pose a danger, including grapes and raisins, which can cause kidney failure.

4) A growing trend in 2014: wearable tech for your dog. Devices can track a lost dog or monitor how much activity and rest the animal is getting. Then the data can be stored and displayed online so you can, for instance, monitor your pet's calories consumed and burned, as CBS reports.

5) More U.S. households own dogs than cats. But there are more cats than dogs per household.

There were 69,926,000 dogs in 36.5% of homes in the United States as of 2012, the American Veterinary Medical Assn. reports. That's an average of 1.6 per household. By comparison, there were 74,059,000 cats in 30.4% of homes, or an average of 2.1 per household.

In addition, the AVMA notes, we spend more on vet visits for dogs than cats each year: $378 (mean) on our dogs but just $191 on cats. When it comes to vet bills, it seems even a horse is cheaper than a dog, although by a slim margin ($373). 

6) The best foods, calories burned and vet visits matter to dog owners. After all, six out of 10 pet owners say their pets aren't just pets but family members.

7) And our dogs just might love us back. They're not just affectionate and loyal. They've been known to save their owners' lives, whether by sniffing out cancer or saving a sleeping boy from a burning home.

Some experts say dogs are capable of experiencing and showing a range of emotion. Let us know about your dogs -- or other great pets -- and check out the photos from readers, above, who answered the question: "Does your pet smile?"

I have two great dogs. Follow me at @AmyTheHub

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