Your dogs can be great companions or they can shorten their lifespan dramatically. Dogs have been around long enough that we know what’s good for them. We’ve learned from our own experience with animals, as well as research by veterinarians who study longevity in pets. Here are ten things you should do if you want your dog to lead an extra-long life.
1. Keep Them Moving
Dogs get old faster when they sit around all day doing nothing but eating and sleeping. A sedentary lifestyle is bad for any animal, including humans. The best way to help keep your pooch moving is to exercise him regularly. This will not only promote mobility, it’ll also reduce stress levels and improve moods. Exercising every few days keeps muscles strong while reducing weight, which helps prevent arthritis later on down the road. Just remember to take breaks so that your dog doesn’t become overheated.
2. Get Them Socialized
Socialization at a young age teaches dogs how to interact positively with other people and animals. It makes them better citizens because they learn self control, responsibility, patience, and respect. If you don’t socialize puppies very early, they may grow up into snappy little terrors unable to handle everyday situations.
They won’t be able to play nicely with family members, strangers, and even other dogs without being aggressive. Instead, encourage interaction between adults whenever possible. Make sure your dog has plenty of time outside to explore his surroundings. He needs lots of positive experiences with both familiar and unfamiliar people and objects.
3. Feed Them Right
Pets require more calories than most people realize. Even though they’re smaller than us, dogs eat about 60 percent more per pound than average Americans consume. That means feeding your pet right goes beyond just making sure he gets enough nutrients — it’s essential to make sure she does not overeat! Overeating leads to obesity, which increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, liver problems, joint pain, bone fractures, skin infections, bladder stones, kidney failure, and intestinal blockages. Plus, overfeeding encourages vomiting and diarrhea, which spread harmful bacteria everywhere.
4. Exercise Regularly
Just like humans, exercising regularly can boost energy levels and slow aging processes. In addition to helping strengthen bones, muscle tone, and flexibility, regular physical activity stimulates endorphin production, which improves moods.
While running, swimming, playing fetch, hiking, riding bikes, going to the park, walking, agility training, fly casting, hunting, shooting ranges, frisbee games, field sports, football, soccer, basketball, tennis, golfing, bowling, baseball, softball, horseback riding, fishing, camping, etc., there are many enjoyable ways to stay active. And no matter what sport you enjoy, find activities for kids too. There are even group fitness classes available.
5. Don’t Breed Too Many Pups
If you breed your dog often, chances are high that some of her offspring might inherit genetic disorders. Unfortunately, this happens frequently among golden retrievers (a popular breed), labradors, chihuahuas, pugs, shih tzus, cockapoos, bichon frises, boxers, bull mastiffs, spaniels, German shorthaired pointers, dachshunds, and various mixes.
Breeding multiple litters each year puts undue strain on your pup’s body and health. As soon as one litter is finished, wait two years before getting another puppy. Then consider adopting older dogs instead. Some shelters accept adult dogs, especially those with special needs. Or look online for local rescue groups.
6. Provide Plenty of Water and Food
Water is vital to healthy living. Drinking water prevents dehydration, reduces bloating, promotes digestion, regulates blood pressure, controls cholesterol, maintains proper immune function, aids elimination, and provides nourishment to cells.
For dehydrated dogs, drinking water becomes part of daily routine and habits. But, sometimes owners forget to give them clean fresh water throughout the day. When left unchecked, dirty water causes digestive issues, gas buildup, bloat, pancreatitis, stomach ulcers, constipation, ear infections, eye irritation, respiratory distress, lethargy, weakness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, rashes, hair loss, behavioral changes, decreased appetite, excessive drooling, foul odors, staining, mold growth, and parasites.
To avoid these unpleasant side effects, always provide fresh cold filtered water. Treating your dog’s dry mouth with moistened treats or chews is helpful too. Also, try adding supplements such as probiotics. Probiotic supplements contain beneficial microorganisms that digest waste products, fight infection, enhance immunity, and produce short chain fatty acids needed for normal bowel movements. Avoid canned foods containing high amounts of sodium, preservatives, sugars, additives, coloring agents, and MSG. These unhealthy substances cause serious harm.
7. Take Care of Their Teeth
Teething usually lasts less than three months, but during that time it hurts worse than anything else your dog ever experienced. Chewing on inappropriate items, gnawing at furniture legs, digging holes in yards, chewing shoes, carpet fibers, nails, plastic bags, fences, electrical cords, trees, bushes, rocks, sticks, newspapers, trashcans, bicycles, porches, car bumpers, glass shards, mailboxes, telephone poles, fire hydrants, concrete slabs, and asphalt pavements can damage teeth permanently.
So, teach children never to throw small toys away carelessly. Teach your dog to chew safely on appropriate kibble rather than table scraps. Consider having your vet check out your dog’s gums once per month to catch tooth decay before it progresses further. Brush your dog’s coat frequently using dental floss wrapped around your finger tip. If your dog still likes to nibble, invest in a treat dispenser that releases tasty morsels after your pet pees or licks its paws.
8.Give Them a Healthy Diet
Most experts agree that diets rich in lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega 3 fats, and phytochemicals prolong life span and protect against diseases. Because different types of foods affect different breeds differently, consult a veterinarian regarding optimal nutrition for your pet.
Generally speaking, however, dogs thrive on moderate portions of raw meat, eggs, fish, poultry, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, and oils. Meat is particularly important because amino acids, enzymes, and fat-soluble vitamins found in red meats aid in digestion, metabolism, tissue repair, healing, and cell regeneration. By contrast, processed meats, refined carbs, and sugar contribute to inflammation, oxidative stress, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, hypertension, varicose veins, osteoarthritis, cancerous tumors, prostate enlargement, and obesity.
Proteins, especially lean ones, lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol, thereby protecting arteries and preventing atherosclerosis. Fiber slows absorption of glucose and minimizes spikes in blood sugar and triglycerides. Complex carbohydrates supply sustained energy and maintain steady blood sugar levels. Fats regulate hormone balance and support brain development and nerve function. Minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium, and iodine, are necessary for strong bones and efficient circulation. Vitamins C and E protect DNA against free radical damage and reduce symptoms associated with PMS and menopause. Antioxidants neutralize reactive oxygen species produced during cellular respiration and fight off carcinogens. Omega 3 fats reduce inflammation and increase collagen synthesis, thus improving skin elasticity and appearance. Phytonutrients called bioflavonoids, polyphenols, and saponins fight bacterial infection and fungal infestation.
9. Find a Good Home for the Oldies
When considering where to place an elderly dog, think twice about boarding facilities. Most commercial kennel houses are crowded and noisy environments that negatively impact senior dogs’ quality of life. Although vets recommend keeping dogs indoors due to air pollution, indoor confinement prevents outdoor access, deprives seniors of stimulation, and exposes them to new illnesses picked up elsewhere.
At home, an older dog requires a quiet space where he can sleep, relax, and eliminate comfortably. His environment must be comfortable and stimulating yet nonthreatening. He needs company, but not constant attention, grooming, meals, cleaning duties, walks, and playtime. With careful planning and management, your beloved canine friend can happily reside for decades.
10. Be Patient and Positive
With proper medical treatment, conscientious breeding practices, nutritious food, and consistent exercise, dogs could theoretically live forever. However, since modern medicine cannot cure everything, it’s unrealistic to expect a 100% chance of survival past a certain point. Furthermore, humans aren’t meant to live much beyond 80 years anyway, so why push ourselves? Rather than fretting over death, focus on enjoying life now. After all, dogs would probably prefer the same fate.
By following tips mentioned above, you can help extend your furry buddy’s life expectancy by several years. Of course, you can also adopt an elder dog from a shelter, rehome rescued cats and birds, and volunteer at local humane societies and animal sanctuaries.