For most dog owners, their dogs are indeed an integral part of the family. And if we could have it our way, we would move heaven and earth to ensure that our dear four-legged babies lived as long as we did. Sadly, we must face the harsh, unfair truth that we will almost always outlive our pets.
Our dogs enrich our human lives with unconditional love, companionship, countless cuddles, and boundless joy. And in this case, the least we can do is take accountability for their care and stay proactive about their health to extend their time on earth.
In case you just brought home a new puppy, you are probably not too concerned about their life expectancy since the average lifespan of a dog is anywhere between ten to thirteen years. However, as your pup gets older, you will probably want to find out what you can do to keep them healthy and prolong their life as much as possible.
So, are there things you can do to increase your dog’s lifespan? Well, every dog’s life is partly determined by its genetics. However, their future is not set in stone, and you can make a big difference by the way you take care of them.
The quicker you start some of these changes, the better, so don’t waste time and get started right away. Here are five easy tips to help your dog live a longer and happier life.
Get Regular Vet Checkups And Vaccinations
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Regular checkups with your veterinarian can help discern health problems and diseases early on, while they can still be treated. The same goes for vaccinations, which can save your dog's life.
Professionals recommend that dogs should visit the veterinarian at least once a year when they are fully grown and two to five times per year while they are puppies. Be sure to take your canine for routine wellness checkups and monitor their health throughout the years, increasing their life span.
With the average cost of a vet visit varying between $210 to $260 depending on the dog's breed, the area where you live, and the dog's health history, you definitely have to visit your vet at least once per year and submit your dog to an annual professional health checkup.
Also, explore the possibility of getting a pet health insurance plan and significantly lowering the vet fees even more and for good. This way, with a comprehensive pet insurance plan, you won't have to worry about breaking your bank in case of an emergency.
Become A Nutrition Nerd And Encourage A Healthy Diet
A diet restriction study has confirmed that less is better when it comes to feeding your dog. The study showed that dogs maintained at 25% smaller calorie intake than regular eating canines had a 15% longer median life span.
That doesn’t mean that you should drastically reduce your dog’s caloric intake without consulting an experienced vet. Still, this information endorses the common-sense understanding that a dog with a healthy weight is a dog who lives a longer life. Overweight dogs are more likely to develop heart disease, have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, and even cancer.
The quality of the food you serve to your pet matters the most. Carefully read the food labels. Try to avoid generic meat by-products, excess sodium, sugars, and unnecessary fillers. If you want to help extend your dog’s healthy life, only shop for food that’s rich in whole ingredients, fresh vegetables, and organic pet food.
Don’t Forget To Maintain Your Dog’s Teeth
Tooth decay is a widespread and dangerous health issue for dogs. The reason for this is that tooth decay causes dental problems and can also provoke various infections throughout the dog’s body, especially in the kidneys and the heart.
As you already know, most pups aren’t going to have picture-perfect teeth and fresh breath like a person, but their teeth and gums should be moderately clean. Purchase a special teeth-cleaning kit, which includes a small brush and a special toothpaste to brush your pup’s teeth. The perfect brush to use is double-headed, with the brushes at a 45° angle to clean below the gum line.
Make sure to brush your dog’s teeth at least a couple of times a week to keep them clean. In case your dog has a substantial buildup of plaque, visit a vet and have it removed as soon as possible.
Give Your Dog Regular Exercise
Dogs need physical exercise in the same way that humans do. In theory, your pet should get at least an hour and a half of exercise every day to strengthen their health and regulate their weight.
These dog exercises don’t have to be organized into a routine, but you should regularly let them outside to run and explore, in addition to a couple of regular walks you take them on, of course.
During their exercise time, you can also let your dog play with other dogs in the area. Dogs enjoy this activity because aside from getting the required physical activity, playing with other dogs keeps them emotionally healthy as well.
Keep Their Mind Sharp, Too
Like humans, dogs flourish on mental stimulation to keep their minds sharp and consequently feel happy. A bored pup can become anxious, depressed, and even ill. You can certainly extend your dog’s life by keeping their mind in shape.
As they age, make sure to keep their mind active through various training sessions, games, socialization, one-on-one attention, and other mind fulfilling activities. It’s never too late to teach an adult dog new tricks.
You can sign up for progressive obedience lessons or try a dog sport like flyball, carting, agility, or lure coursing. Your four-legged companion will thrive with the added stimulation, and your bond will bolster as you learn new skills together.
The unfortunate reality of dog parenthood is that people outlive pets, and no miracle pill will prolong your dog’s lifespan far beyond the natural one of their breed. After their time on earth, one way to remember and honor them by having a custom stuffed animal of your pet to offer some comfort and solace when no words or pictures can.
Nevertheless, with regular veterinary attention, constant care, regular physical and mental exercises, you may effectively prolong your pet’s life and give them a few extra years. Never forget how much your time together is precious, so maintain healthy habits, and savor every minute.
About the Author:
Sherryn De Vos is a huge animal lover and enjoys writing about these beautiful little creatures. She's a content writer at a food and health blog AvocadoPesto in her day job and devotes her time in supporting pet blogs whenever she gets the opportunity. She also works with animal shelters to provide better living conditions and possible future homes for pets. Currently she’s creating pets and animal-related content to address the animal and pet niche's right audience.