You love your furry friend more than you love yourself and you would do anything to find the perfect ways to extend your dog's life. The average lifespan of a dog is usually between 12-14 years, but if properly taken care of, they can be by your side much longer than that. Even though genetics and the breed type do play a pretty big role here, there are numerous factors that are within your control. Here are 7 ways to extend your dog's life you should not overlook.
One of the best ways to extend your dog's life is to ensure a healthy diet. The ideal solution would be to buy your dog quality meat and vegetables and cook for your furry buddy yourself, but this can be tricky. First of all, you will need to know the exact proportions of nutrients your dog needs. Secondly, this approach can get quite expensive. If you don't manage your budget well, you may end up drooling over your dog's freshly cooked meal while you're stuck eating a hot dog all day because it's all you could afford for yourself. Of course, you can also opt for quality pet food, but be careful when choosing it. Whatever approach you choose, make sure to avoid corn and wheat, as they are difficult to digest, raise insulin levels, and can lead to diabetes and obesity.
The amount of food given and the caloric intake are also highly important for extending your dog's life. Of course, you don't want to be able to count your buddy's ribs from miles away, but you shouldn't have to dig through tons of fat to be able to see his legs. Ideally, the ribs are only visible when the dog inhales, but you should be able to feel them when touching your dog. Also, the belly should be tucked up, and the waist visible from above.
Just like kids, dogs are more sensitive to environmental pollutants than adult humans, because they are smaller, and thus their exposure to harmful factors is bigger per unit of body weight. Don't feed them from plastic bowls, which may contain harmful chemicals, avoid using herbicides on your lawn, and make sure the cleaning products you use in the house are safe.
Vaccines can be lifesavers, especially when your dog is little and the immune system is not strong enough yet, but they can cause serious adverse reactions if you overdo it. Just like you don't have to go to the doctor every year for every vaccine (measles, polio, etc.), your fur-ball doesn't either. The AAHA recommends inoculating your dog with the 4 core canine vaccines no more often than every 3 years. If you want to know when the time is right, find a vet you can trust and ask him to run a blood titer to see if your buddy needs a booster for any of the vaccines.
This decision must be considered very carefully. While spaying/neutering may bring benefits on the one hand, it can have quite a lot of negative effects too, from obesity and endocrine dysfunction to the increased risk of some forms of cancer.
More and more dogs, especially large breeds, suffer from joint issues as they age, either due to obesity or poor nutrition. And it's heartbreaking to have to put down an otherwise healthy dog that can no longer stand or lives in agony because of destroyed joints. So, as you can see, it's all the more important to keep your buddy fit and offer him nutrient-rich food to protect his bones and joints. Also, it would be even better to give your pet specialized supplements for joint and cartilage health.
Stress can have a much greater impact on your furry friend than it has on you, and it can translate to decreased lifespan. Just imagine your furry buddy lying awake at night all stressed out, thinking, "Oh my, so much work to do tomorrow! I need to finish chewing up the couch by noon, hunt my ball around the whole house afterwards, and chase my tail at 4 pm. And I also have to take my human out for a walk, and there are dozens of trees and fences to pee on!" Joking aside, dogs are highly excitable creatures and anything can stress them, from loneliness, confinement, and loud noises to the anticipation of you coming home or the over-excitement of seeing you. Engage with your dogs as often as possible, walk them long enough to burn that extra energy, and enforce commands that allow them to relax, such as "sit" or "lie down."
These were just a few (but highly important) things to keep in mind if you want to prolong your dog's life. Do you have any other tips you'd like to share?
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