Dogs in the United States have an average lifespan of 12 years, with smaller breeds usually living longer than giant breeds. Although we can’t avoid the inevitable heartache of losing a pet, we can take steps to help our dogs live as long as possible.
1. Use your common sense. Keep your dog on a leash when you’re walking, so he doesn’t run onto the road and get hit by a car. Wild animals such as coyotes may see your dog as prey, so if you live near the forestry, make sure your fencing is secure to protect him from attack.
2. Feed your dog a good quality food. It’s a good idea to give him anti-oxidants if they’re not included in his kibble. Both Vitamin E and Vitamin C are well known anti-oxidants which may help reduce cell damage. Ask your veterinarian for a dose rate that’s suitable for your dog.
3. Watch how much food you give your dog. Research has shown that dogs fed a restricted amount of food can live up to 2 years longer than a dog fed as much as he wants. Obesity is also a leading cause of heart disease and diabetes in dogs, which can also shorten his life. Physical exercise is also important in trimming his waistline, and keeping his heart healthy.
4. Regular veterinary care is important. If your dog has an illness and it is diagnosed and treated early, the outcome will be much better. For example, dogs who suffered from kidney disease and were fed a prescription kidney diet lived longer than dogs fed regular kibble. Not only that, but the sooner the prescription diet was started, the better the outcome. By having your dog’s health checked frequently, you’ll be able to start any necessary treatment early, and your dog will be with you longer.
5. Stress can affect your dog’s immune system and can make him more likely to fall ill. It’s important that you make sure his life is as stress free as possible. Your dog can’t possibly be stressed, can he? He’s well fed, has a warm bed and someone who loves him. Stress in dogs can be very subtle. For example, a herding breed may be stressed if he can’t expend his energy, or use his brain. Dogs are intelligent animals. Regular exercise and mental stimulation is so important in keeping their stress levels down. Consider obedience training, agility or herding classes to give them something to do with their mind.
Children walking past your front fence on their way home from school may also cause your dog some anxiety, particularly if they tease him. If you’re concerned about your dog’s stress levels, place a few drops of Sleepytime Tonic on his tongue. It contains Skullcap and Passionflower, both of which reduce anxiety. Its Bach Flower Remedies, particularly Wild Oat, help ease fear and irritability, and reduce boredom-related depression.
If your dog does live to a ripe old age, you may find that you have to deal with age related conditions which can affect his quality of life. One of the most common problems in senior dogs is arthritis. They find it harder to get up and down stairs, and are often stiff in the legs first thing in the morning. Joint Resolution is your solution to this problem. Collagen in Joint Resolution reduces discomfort in arthritic dogs and allows them to enjoy life to the fullest.
There are no guarantees that anything you do will increase the time you have to share with your four legged best friend. Keep him physically safe, watch what he eats, manage his stress levels and develop a close relationship with your veterinarian. This gives you the best chance of having your dog grow old with you.