They’re happy to see you when you wake up, happy when you get home from work, and make for great cuddle buddies when you’re under the weather.
That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to make sure your dog lives a long, healthy life. And just like you, your dog’s diet, exercise, and downtime all play into their lifespan.
As a dog owner, there are things you can do for your furry friend to make sure their daily routine is helping promote a long and healthy lifespan. Here are 4 easy ways you can add years to your dog’s life.
1. Watch What They Eat
Feeding your dog healthy, nutritional food and keeping them away from table scraps can certainly support their health and longevity. But did you know how much they eat matters almost just as much as what they eat?
A 14-year life-span study on dogs found that dogs that ate 25% fewer calories than other dogs in the house had a life span 15% longer than the dogs that had no limit on their food intake. That’s a life extension of almost 2 years!
As with humans, obesity remains the main nutritional problem for dogs. But how do you know if your dog is eating too much?
The solution: Your vet will be able to tell you whether your dog is at a healthy weight for their breed and age. But until their yearly checkup, a good indicator of whether your dog is eating too much is from their physique.
Ideally, the outline of your dog’s ribs should be visible, and you should be able to feel their ribs when you touch their side. Your dog’s waist should be visible from above, and their belly should be tucked up when viewed from the side.
However, your dog’s ribs should not be highly visible, as this means they’re not getting enough nutrition. Consult your vet if your dog’s ribs are highly visible to check for any potential health issues.
2. Stay Active
Dogs are made for running, which is why not enough physical activity can take a toll on their mental and physical health.
Staying active can help your dog maintain a healthy weight, keep their muscles and organs strong, and keep them from getting bored or anxious.
Plus, when your dog has the chance to release energy and play outside, they’re more likely to be obedient and relaxed at home — meaning fewer torn up pillows or ravaged trash cans.
The solution: Take your dog out for at least a 30-minute walk or run every day. If you’ve got a herding or sporting dog, you should shoot for closer to 60-90 minutes of exercise a day.
Make an effort to take your dog to the dog park a few times a week, as socialization does great things for your dog (and you!).
Spending time with other dogs at the dog park will help keep your dog’s spirits high, and a happy dog is a healthy one.
3. Get Some R&R
Dogs are easily excited — which is what makes coming home to them every night such a welcoming experience.
And while excitement isn’t necessarily bad stress, too much excitement can lead to increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which are the same hormones that are produced during stressful situations.
If your dog is overly excited, they may have the same symptoms that they have when stressed — diarrhea, changes in appetite, or constipation.
Since dogs have shorter lifespans than humans, stress can take a heavy toll on their bodies and, consequently, their lifespan.
Apart from excitement, actual stress can be hard on your dog’s heart and mind and could lead to poor health or a stunted life.
Situations that could stress out your dog include confinement, loneliness, loud noises, and not enough exercise.
Like too much excitement, stress can affect your dog through changes in bowel movements, changes in appetite, increased sleeping, or aggression toward other animals and humans.
The solution: To decrease your dog’s stress levels, make sure they’re getting enough attention and exercise every day. Dogs are social creatures that need engagement with people and other dogs to stay happy and stress-free.
If your dog tends to get overly excited, enforcing calming commands like “sit!” can help them relax and stay calm.
4. Keep Their Teeth Clean
Just like you, your dog’s oral health is the gateway to their overall health.
Your dog’s untreated cavities can lead to gum or periodontal disease, which affects almost 90% of adult dogs.
This is bad news for your pet, as periodontal disease can spread an infection to other parts of your dog’s body, leading to liver, kidney or heart disease.
These conditions are dangerous for your canine companion, as kidney and heart failure are amongst the most frequent causes of death in older dogs.
The solution? Maintaining an at-home oral health regiment for your dog will protect their teeth and, consequently, their vital organs.
From brushing their teeth to buying tooth-friendly food and chew toys, keeping your dog’s teeth clean and cavity-free can help your dog stay healthy and live a longer life.
If you’re new to brushing your dog’s teeth or knowing when to take them to the vet for an oral health issue, we’ve got your back. Learn more about how to keep your dog’s teeth clean >