Did you know that dogs have a potential to live longer than 14 years? Some dogs generally live longer than others as a result of differences in breeds and genes, which is obviously out of our control. But there are also things that every dog owners can do to enjoy a life alongside their pets for longer.
Although you are completely in control of your own life, your Fido is not. The choices you make on your pet’s behalf can either prolong or decrease their lifespan. Below you can find a cheat sheet with tips on how to increase your dog’s health and add four years to your dog’s life.
Let’s be honest here. Taking your dog for longer walks, giving affection, and building a strong relationship with them is great, but it won’t actually affect your dog’s lifespan. For that purpose, you should see our tips on 16 ways you can become a better dog owner in general, which can definitely have a significantly positive impact on your dog’s quality of life.
But in order to substantially increase your pet’s lifespan, there are only a few proven ways that come with definite results – see them below.
6 Proven Ways to Add 4 to 6 Years to Your Dog’s Life
1. Healthy food and healthy weight
Even with all the healthy dog food movement taking place in the U.S. and all over the world, there’s still plenty of brick-and-mortar as well as online pet stores that sell poor quality, unhealthy cuisine for our pets.
Like people, dogs also require clean, healthy, and nutrient-rich foods. And even though educating yourself heavily in the subject of pet nutrition, or even nutrition in general, would be extremely beneficial for any dog owner, not all of you will have the time to do that. In that case, stick with the basics: purchase only natural and organic dog food that comes from proven sources and made by American manufacturers with solid reputations. Always remember to follow caloric guidelines, because pets can become obese even on healthy food.
2. Brush your dog’s teeth
Veterinarians report that maintaining a good oral hygiene of your dog will add an additional 4 years to your dog’s life. Combine that with healthy kibble and other tips below, and your dog will likely live even longer than that.
Tartar and plaque being formed on your dog’s teeth when you don’t brush them is made up of harmful bacteria. When out of control, this bacteria can potentially turn into multiple diseases, which then produce toxins and go down into your dog’s body. Bacteria slowly harms or even destroys your dog’s vital organs: liver, kidneys, heart, and possibly even brain. To avoid that, buy a good dog toothbrush and some dog toothpaste, and try to clean your pet’s teeth at least once a day.
3. Take care of your dog’s joints
It’s very sad that every day, veterinarians are euthanizing dogs who are completely healthy overall, but can no longer support their own weight because of almost non-existent joints.
In dogs, just as in humans, joints wear out with time, and with canines, a lot of it depends on the breed. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are one of the most common issues pets have. It’s a gradual and natural process of a living body, but there are things you can do to extremely minimize the decline of your Fido’s joints’ health. First, start with #1 on this list – a healthy and lean diet, and focus on dog food with more phosphorus. Second, after consulting with a vet, find some good dog joint supplements. Healthy joints alone can prolong your pet’s life up to 2 years.
4. Don’t ignore symptoms and do regular check-ups
Although every responsible pet owner’s motto should be to prevent bad things from happening in the first place instead of treating them later, sadly that’s usually not the case.
To spike your interest further, let me tell you that prevention would cost you significantly less than treatment. Keeping a healthy dog can sometimes be a challenge, but you should never ignore even the most minor hints of health decrease in your pet, whatever it may be. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, don’t be lazy or frugal with check-ups at your local veterinary clinic. Dogs are part of our families, and we should take care of them as such. Catch any kind of diseases and infections before they permanently affect your loyal friend’s health.
5. Be vaccine-aware
Some vaccines are required by law, like rabies. However, certain dog owners love to over-vaccinate their pets, thinking that it’s all for the better, but unfortunately, this won’t be always true.
Vaccines are one of the greatest inventions, but we sometimes forget to use them sparingly. Remember that certain vaccines come with side effects too, and can ultimately work against your dog. Be an intelligent dog owner and pick only those vaccines that will benefit your pet in a long run, therefore, increasing your Fido’s lifespan. Always get a second, or even a third opinion, do your research and make rational decisions. Use a grain of salt when taking advice from regular websites (including this one) because ultimately it’s science that will save your dog, not journalism!
6. Monitor, monitor, monitor
Finally, keeping track of your dog’s health, whether it’s increasing or decreasing and what symptoms follow that decline is very important.
To accomplish that, every dog owner should be taking their pets for regular blood tests, usually once a year is more than enough. This works together with #4’s regular checkups and acting upon any kinds of symptoms. Except that actually monitoring your pet’s health means taking a very close look at where it can potentially be heading and at what point you can expect to start seeing some problems, which allows you to prepare in advance. This is pure science, so leave it entirely up to good veterinarians that specialize in dogs.
In the end, there’s a realization that most dog owners come to: maintaining a healthy pet can cost you a pretty penny. But think about the time, far in the future, when you still get to see your pet healthy on their 20th birthday – I doubt that anyone who loves their dog dearly will ever regret spending all that cash. So here’s to healthy dogs and longer lives!
Do you have any advice to add for current or future dog owners who are looking to increase their dog’s lifespan? Which of the six tips above have you been implementing for the benefit of your dog’s health and what has worked best? Share your tips and ideas with other dog owners in the comments section, and maybe we’ll add them to the list.
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