Let's face it, we all dread thinking about the day our fur kids will leave us and we all try to do as much as we can to give them long, healthy lives, but sometimes we inadvertently do, or don't do, things that can actually shorten their lifespan.
Some things are pretty obvious — if we eat crummy food we tend to have a shorter lifespan — the same applies to your pooch, but there are things that don't necessarily stand out as detrimental to your dog's longevity. I've compiled a short list of some things you can do or avoid doing to give your dog the best possibility of a long, happy life!
1. Chunky Monkey
One of the most frustrating and most obvious issues is an overweight dog. Sure, it's kind of cute when you refer to your dog as "chunky monkey," but the truth is a lot of dog owners don't recognize the impact extra weight can have on their dog's lifespan and quality of life.
Just like people, being overweight can introduce several secondary issues such as arthritis, diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, joint and hip issues and sometimes even behavioral issues. Overweight dogs can also experience chronic inflammation which increases the risk of cancer.
The truth is 85 percent of dog owners would classify their dog as being a healthy weight. The reality is that 53 percent of those dogs are considered obese. That's scary! As a responsible pet parent, we should all obtain the proper knowledge to provide our dogs with the best life possible and that means maintaining a healthy and appropriate weight. After all, we are the hands that feed them! Literally!
2. Oral Hygiene
That's right, an unhealthy mouth can lead not only to dental issues like Gingivitis, but also to issues outside the mouth like heart, kidney and even respiratory problems.
Tartar build-up in the mouth can cause some pretty nasty breath, but it also can create pockets between the teeth and gums where bacteria and other debris gather. This can lead to infection, inflammation, bone loss and abscesses. Once your dog has developed this condition, called Periodontal disease, it's irreversible and can be very painful.
Research has also shown that certain bacteria found in the mouth produce a protein that adhere to artery walls and can cause blood clots. Uh oh!
Point is, keep your dog's teeth clean! If you're not sure how, check our my post about Petzlife.
3. Removing The Baby Makers
A lot of people think having their dog altered is just a means to end the possibility of unwanted litters. While this is true, spaying and neutering also reduce the risk of cancer by nearly 100 percent. That means cancers such as mammary gland tumors, uterine, ovarian and testicular cancer are four fewer things you and your dog have to worry about.
Altering your dog also decreases their desire to roam which can reduce your dog's urge to escape the yard. Just a little food for thought to back up that last statement, 85 percent of dogs who are hit by cars are unaltered.
As an added bonus, on average, altered dogs tend to live one to three years longer than their unaltered counterparts! That's one to three more years you get to spend loving your pup.
Dogs are instinctual, social pack animals; they thrive and crave attention. It's one of the reasons why dogs are able to cohabitate with a multitude of other pack or herd animals like sheep, horses and cattle.
When dogs are properly socialized, they are generally happier, healthier, friendlier and more predictable, making new environments and people less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone, including you!
Dogs who are not adequately socialized are much more likely to develop aggressive or destructive tendencies as they have not been equipped with the proper tools to deal with new or different situations. They often develop anxiety, depression and are generally less healthy and often present with chronic skin and coat issues.
There are tons of ways to socialize dogs of all ages, here are just a few:
- Dog parks
- Nature trails (also good for burning off that energy!)
- Puppy classes
- Doggy Parties
- Pet Stores
5. Exercise & A Healthy Diet May Keep Sickness Away But A Trip To The Doctors Is Still A Must!
A lot of pet parents only take their dogs to the vet when it's time to renew vaccines or when there's an obvious issue, but yearly exams can detect issues before they become big problems or before they're too advanced to treat.
Your veterinary is trained to notices small things that may seem trivial to you, like lipomas or fatty deposit on an older dog. What you think is benign and unimportant could be an indicator of something much larger and much more serious, like cancer or infiltration lipomas which can invade muscle tissue.
It's always best to have your dogs checked out yearly. It could prolong their life by years if problems are noticed and addressed early.
There are several factors that play a role in determining how long our fur kids are with us, some are out of our control, but I know I am going to do everything I can to make sure my fur kids are the happiest and healthiest they can be!