Published on January 20th, 2015 | by Debbie Martin0
Tips to lengthen your Dogs life
There are a number of factors which influence a dog’s lifespan. Most of these are attributable to genetics and are therefore beyond your control. Small dogs, for example, will generally live longer than larger ones.
There is however a number of contributing factors which dog owners can control. Every dog owner – almost without exception – wants their dog to live a long and happy life. In this article, we will explore a few of the ways in which this can be achieved and provide a few tips to lengthen your dogs life.
Just as it does in humans, much of your dog’s health stems from the quality of their diet. If you feed them nothing but low cost, dried foods, then their quality of life and longevity may not be as long as you would like. If, on the other hand, you feed them good quality – though not necessarily expensive – food, you can enrich their lives and they may will live longer.
This is because good quality foods are rich in all of the nutrients which help to maintain a dog’s body. It is particularly crucial in maintaining a healthy gut and immune system – both of which play a huge role in ensuring a long lifespan. There are dog foods especially suited to the age of the dog because as a dog gets older they are susceptible to different things.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell at a glance whether the inside of your dog is healthy. There are, however, a few more obvious signs to look out for. Is your dog’s fur shiny and soft? Are their eyes bright and attentive? How does their skin feel? If your dog looks generally unhealthy – even if they haven’t developed any particular problem – then you might consider a change of diet to address this.
If your dog has any particular deficiencies, then your might consider feeding your dog a specialised diet in order to help mitigate the problem. For example, you might consider feeding your dog a diet rich in calcium if they have a history of bone problems. This can be of particular importance if your dog does not enjoy having its teeth brushed.
Among the most common preventable diseases in dogs are those which affect the teeth and gums. Dogs who suffer from problems with their teeth and gums are far more likely to develop other problems – not least of which is an inability to eat properly, which can in turn lead to problems of the heart and kidneys. Having already stressed the importance of proper nutrition, let us recognise the importance of proper dentistry.
The best preventative strategy when it comes to tooth decay is the one we humans have adopted: a regular programme of brushing. However, very few dogs enjoy this procedure – as well you might, if you were a dog.
If your dog is particularly resistant to the toothbrush, then there are a number of diets and chewable treats which are designed to improve a dog’s dental health too. Your vet will be able to recommend one. That said, no dog foods will be able to substitute for a program of regular brushing.
We have already touched on the importance of a dog’s diet. But there is another edge to this sword; just as it is important that your dog eats enough of the right things, it is equally important that your dog does not eat too much of them.
There are certain foodstuffs which will contribute to obesity. These are foods which should generally be reserved as occasional treats – scraps from the dinner table, for example, can have a cumulative effect on your dog’s waistline.
Diet is one way of regulating your pet’s weight. But there is, of course, another component which is crucial.
Opinion is divided on how much exercise a dog needs in order to stay healthy. Thirty minutes to an hour a day is generally regarded as a sensible guideline – but the actual amount will vary massively, depending on the dog. A young dog will have a huge amount of energy, whereas an old dog will not. Similarly, some breeds are lethargic where others are brimming with vigour.
Many dog owners will be able to intuit when a dog is tired and when it is still raring to go. In most cases, the dog will take great pains to appraise you of the situation, jumping up and down and running around in circles. Perhaps the most reliable method of gauging a dog’s energy level is during the walk. When the walk finishes, the dog should be walking markedly slower than it was at the beginning.
Keep an eye on your dog
While it is advisable to take your dog for regular walks, it is highly inadvisable that the dog should be allowed to go for a walk on its own. There are all sorts of risks to your dog – particularly during winter, when anti-freeze can leak beneath cars, providing a deadly temptation which many animals succumb to every year. This is especially so if you happen to live in a built-up, urban area. If you are particularly worried about your dog going missing, then you should invest in a collar – or, better yet, you should get your dog micro chipped. Your vet will be happy to provide information about the latter option; they may even be able to do it themselves, when given a little bit of notice.
There are a number of chronic conditions which can severely affect dogs. In the vast majority of cases, these conditions are more easily treated earlier in their development. Conversely, if left untreated, these conditions can deteriorate – sometimes rapidly and sometimes irreversibly. It is important to prevent such diseases from becoming advanced.
This is particularly important, as there are a number of diseases which are asymptomatic. Though it may seem as though your dog is perfectly happy and healthy, if you haven’t had them taken to the vet in the last year, then you cannot say this with confidence.
Your vet can also vaccinate against a number of diseases, all of which are hugely damaging if not guarded against. This vaccination takes only moments and will need to be updated annually. If your dog is not vaccinated, they are unprotected!