Every dog parent dreads the event of the passing of a loved and cherished dog. It seems unfair that such loyal and wonderful beings have a lifespan that is greatly shorter than ours. While we cannot keep our furry friends immortal, they are, however, a few good ways that boost longevity. Though the average lifespan of dogs is between 10-13 years, very few dogs live up to that age. Many begin to fall sick by 7-9 years and then gradually worsen as old age sets in. It is generally observed that smaller breeds have longer lives than the larger breeds. Small to medium breeds with a lighter bodyweight, usually live up to 12-15 years while larger breeds live up to 8-12 years. However, there are exceptional cases in which dogs have lived till 27 or 29 years of age and with proper care, your dog could too!
In this blog, you will know what you can do to improve the lifespan of your canine and what you must stop doing that hampers a long and healthy life.
1. Brush teeth regularly
As humans, brushing our teeth is a very automatic and natural process. But how many of us do the same for our dogs? Not many. True, brushing your dog’s teeth can seem like a very tiresome task, but it is an essential one. Like humans, dogs too develop plaque on their teeth if left uncleaned and this can lead to serious diseases and infections like gingivitis, periodontal disease, and even tooth loss. Sometimes the bacteria from the mouth can find its way into the body and infect the kidneys and liver. Such oral diseases are bound to cut a few years of your dog’s life and hence require instant care. So if not every day, make sure you brush your dog’s teeth at least once in three days, or a minimum of two times a week. Adding to this, make sure your dog is clean, hygienic, and well-groomed to avoid any infections.
2. Ensure physical fitness
There is a common misconception that if a dog keeps eating well, he is healthy. While indeed eating well is a good sign of health, things can get worse when the dog starts gaining too much weight. So make sure your dog receives a suitable amount of physical activity every day and maintain an ideal healthy weight. If you have a small breed, then a minimal activity like short walks would suffice but if you have active or large breeds, then make sure they get a couple of hours outside, to run, stretch and stay fit.
Proper physical fitness would naturally result in an ideal lean body, which is extremely beneficial in the long run. It boosts the cardiovascular system thereby enhancing longevity.
3. Maintain a healthy diet
Of course, it goes without saying that diet really matters. You are what you eat, and that applies to your dog as well. Rather than feeding your dog packed dog food for every single meal, make sure he eats fresh and healthy homemade meals at least three to four times a week. This will also ensure that your dog is obtaining all the required nutrients and not gaining any deficiencies.
4. Keep them engaged
Along with physical fitness, your dog’s brain needs to be exercised too. Leaving dogs unattended and bored for long periods of time makes them prone to mental issues like dog depression or anxiety. So you need to keep them engaged and keep their brains stimulated. Once in a while, make sure to give them puzzles and games that really get their brain juices flowing!
5. Maintain regular health check-ups
This is a very common mistake among dog parents. Though vets and literally everyone else insist on regular medical check-ups for dogs, many people neglect this and take trips to the vet only when they notice something unusual in their dog. Unlike humans, dogs cannot express when they feel something is wrong, and it is our duty to make sure they are regularly checked for any potential infections or diseases. This can help us prevent serious diseases or at least detect it at an early stage and take suitable treatment. So mark your calendars and never ever skip a visit to the vet!
6. Exposure to cigarette smoke
Just like humans, even dogs are severely affected by second-hand smoke. First of all, smoking is detrimental to your health, and additionally, you are putting your dog at risk too. Passive smoking can make dogs more prone to cancers and a variety of respiratory issues. So if you are a smoker or anyone in the house is a smoker, make sure your dog isn’t in the same room. They don’t deserve to take the fall for something they didn’t do!
7. Neglecting deworming and vaccination
Dogs have a weaker immune system than humans and this makes vaccination and deworming highly important. Dogs and their tongues are all over the place and this makes them easily vulnerable to numerous infections and diseases. So it is crucial that we have their immune systems boosted and prepared to tackle any ailment that comes their way.
So keep a track of your dog’s vaccinations and make sure they are always up-to-date. Similarly, make sure that your dog is not over-vaccinated as it comes with negative side effects and follows only what your vet prescribes.
It is impossible for us to stay at home forever and we feel we are losing it when we don’t catch that weekly beer with our gang. Similarly, your dog goes through boredom, frustration, and other psychological issues when cooped up at home 24/7. So take him out for a walk around the neighborhood or to the park, where he can meet other people and dogs. You could also set up playdates with other dogs and give him something to look forward to. Maintaining healthy social relationships will greatly induce positive mental states.
9. Spay or neuter
Most dog parents are not aware of the risks that are eliminated by spaying or neutering a dog. Several studies have also proven that dogs that are spayed or neutered live longer than those who are not.
In females, every heat cycle intensifies the risk of mammary cancer and in males, the risk of prostate or testicular infections and cancers increases with age. Thus it is highly advised to make sure dogs are spayed or neutered to prevent such life-threatening diseases.
10. Shower them with love
This might seem very simple, but it plays a crucial role in enhancing your dog’s lifespan. For your dogs, you are their whole world – their entire day and life revolves around you.
They love you unconditionally and your attention and time matter more than anything to them. So make sure you shower them with love, attention, and care that is worthy of their loyalty and love.
Most of the things you can do to enhance longevity are very simple and basic tasks that you tend to overlook. While dog owners are very keen and involved in their dog’s life in the initial stages, it is common that they tend to neglect such meticulous care as time passes. Well, don’t.
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