Oldest dog celebrates her 24th birthday in Italy

A rescued mongrel called Lilly has celebrated what her Italian family claims is her 24th birthday - a landmark that would make her the oldest dog in the world.

Lilly, a small dog of unknown heritage with a grey-black coat, celebrated her birthday at her family's home in Torre Annuziata, near Naples, on New Year's Day.

Her family, the Acanforases, made her a special cake with the number 112 written on it, her equivalent age in human years.

She was found in a layby on the motorway to Reggio Calabria, the town closest to Sicily's Messina.

Her owner, widow Anna Cutrupi, says Lilly is crazy about fish, and also enjoys kibble and canned meat.

'Lilly is like a daughter to me, and she manages to not make me feel alone, especially after the loss of my husband,' she told Italian media.

Anna said that though her three children, Rocco, Ausilia and Roberta, all have their own families and lives, every time they talk on the phone, 'before anything else they ask me how the dog is.'

'Lilly is now part of our family and is pampered by everyone. She is undoubtedly her age, but she is healthy and lively,' Anna added.

She said that she baked the cake for Lilly as reaching her age was 'an achievement that deserves to be celebrated properly.'

It is commonly believed that dog years can be calculated by taking the number of human years it has been alive for and multiplying it by seven,

But vets have debunked that claim, and come up with a better way of calculating dog ages.

The first year of a dog's life is equivalent to 15 years, while the second makes it 24, given how dogs age and develop in their first few years.

Following on from that, four years should be added for every human year they live.

Dogs typically only live for 10 to 13 human years.