It’s a sad fact of life that dog years are significantly shorter than human years. However, there’s no reason that your best friend can’t have the best dog years of his life while he’s with you—and as many as possible!
There are plenty of ways that you can help your dog live longer. Diet, exercise, wellness checks, and daily doses of love and affection will go a long way in increasing your dog’s lifespan. Here are the best tips for keeping him happy and healthy for many years to come!
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First of all, what is ‘old’ for a dog?
In the US, over 80% of dogs aged six years and older are classified as geriatric. Considering that one dog year is equivalent to seven human years, that’s around 42. But a dog doesn’t have to be ‘old’ when he’s only six! After all, like humans, he’s only as old as he feels. With the right care and attention, your dog can be happy and healthy well beyond that.
How to maximize your dog’s lifespan
Maximizing your dog’s lifespan is really about being proactive to reduce the risk of inflammation, joint issues, obesity, and other common problems that significantly impact a dog’s quality of life.
Feed a species-appropriate diet
The goal of most raw diets is to feed your dog what his ancestors would have eaten, and what his physiology is designed for him to eat. Canine teeth are meant to tear and rip flesh—which is why they’re meant to eat meat and other tough material, like raw vegetables.
A species-appropriate diet also means that dogs should not be fed the same foods as cats. Dogs have about twenty times more pancreatic amylase (the enzyme for digesting carbohydrates) than cats, which means they are much better adapted to getting nutrition from plant and meat sources.
If you’re concerned that your dog isn’t getting everything he needs from his diet, consider a vitamin supplement like Lively Paws' supplements for dogs. These can help to fill any ‘gaps’ in his nutritional intake.
Regular exercise will help keep your dog’s weight in the healthy range, as well as maintain their fitness. The type and amount of exercise your dog needs depend on his age, health conditions, and the level of activity natural to his breed. In general, however, most dogs should get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Physical activity helps to keep his muscles strong and lean and stimulates his mind.
Avoid using chemicals
Chemicals in food and topical products increase the toxic load on your dog’s body. His liver has to process these toxins daily, and can easily become overburdened. The higher the toxic load, the less able your dog’s body is able to carry out normal daily functions such as digestion and energy production.
Check every product that you give your dog, whether it’s for eating or for grooming. Make sure that the food he eats is chemical-free and that his shampoo is natural and plant-based, free of sulfites and heavy chemicals. Avoid topical and internal flea and tick treatments as these contain chemicals that are absorbed into a dog’s bloodstream and can cause adverse reactions like allergies, skin issues, seizures, and possibly even death.
Engage in mental stimulation
Dogs need to keep their brains active. They are social, intelligent animals and love to solve problems. Give him toys that contain some sort of treat (a healthy one!) that require some thought on the dog’s part to get out. These puzzles are great for keeping your dog’s mind sharp and his heart young, while also warding off boredom.
Go for annual wellness exams
Routine wellness checkups are vital, no matter how healthy your dog appears to be. Many canine health issues are not obvious at first, and your beloved pet certainly can’t tell you himself!
Most adult dogs should see the vet at least once a year to make sure everything is running smoothly. Your vet will then be able to see whether your dog needs to come in more often. Prevention is key: the earlier a health issue is discovered, the easier it is to cure or at least manage and control.
Offer lots of love and affection
It goes without saying that a dog can never have too much love! Your best friend adores you and needs to know that you adore him, too. Spend time with your dog daily. Groom him, massage his tummy, and tell him what a good dog he is. These daily doses of your undivided attention will go a long way in keeping your dog happy and healthy for many years!