We all wish our pets lived longer. All we can do is give them the happiest, healthiest lives we can while they’re here. There are some things we can do, though, that could very well lengthen a dog’s lifespan, according to experts.
1. Their diet matters
You may think it doesn’t matter whether your pup eats low-quality store-bought food or organic, homemade meals, but it really does. “Pets fed a high quality diet have a shiny hair coat, healthy skin, and bright eyes,” says Pet Md. “A good diet can help strengthen your pet’s immune system, help maintain his or her intestinal health, help increase his or her mental acuity, help keep joints and muscles healthy, and much more.”
Next: Keep your dog happy.
2. Do what makes your dog happy
Happier dogs tend to live longer lives. Don’t forget to do things with your dog that he absolutely loves. If you brought your dog to the beach one summer and he just about lost his mind he loved it so much, make a point to go more next year. Our pets are only here for a short while, it’s important we give them the best life we can while they’re around.
Next: Exercise is more important than you know.
Exercise isn’t just important for people — it’s imperative in keeping your dog healthy as well. Exercise improves their mood, lowers stress, and increases endorphins in your pup, just like it does in you. “If you want to prolong her life, consider prolonging those evening walks, and maybe even kick it up to a jog,” says Daily Treat.
Next: Educate yourself
4. Become familiar with the warning signs to potential health problems
It’s important to educate yourself on potential warning signs that your dog needs to see a doctor. “Common indicators include bad breath or drooling; changes in appetite, activity levels, or sleep patterns; breathing troubles or congestion; digestive issues; and others,” says wikiHow. Additionally, talk to your vet about common symptoms to look out for in your dog’s particular breed.
Next: Keep your dog in shape.
5. Pay attention to their weight
Though chubby dogs are awfully cute, they aren’t very healthy and typically don’t live very long lives. If you want your dog around for a long time, it’s important to keep him lean. “Being overweight or obese puts your pet at risk for joint disease, heart disease and diabetes, among other things,” says Pet Md.
Next: Removing this bodily stress keeps your dog healthier longer.
6. Spay or neuter your dog
Unless you’d like your dog to have puppies, it’s healthier and safer to spay or neuter your dog, according to wikiHow. “Once they’re healed, they will not experience any of the common hormonal fluctuations and stressful bodily changes that accompany canine reproduction. Removing this bodily stress allows them to remain healthier longer,” reports the site.
Next: You dog needs to de-stress, too.
7. Help your dog live a stress-free life
Just like with people, stress can severely shorten your dog’s life. Though you can’t tell the whole neighborhood to not shoot off fireworks on the Fourth of July, you can do your part throughout the rest of the year to keep your dog happy and stress-free.
Next: Make sure your dog has the proper vaccinations.
8. Vaccinate your dog
Of course your dog needs his DHPP and rabies shots, but it’s important to really take into consideration any other shots your vet may recommend. Some of the shots that may be right for your dog include: Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme Disease, Canine Influenza, and Corona Virus.
Next: Dental hygiene is so important.
9. Brush your dog’s teeth
Though most people don’t want to deal with the pain of brushing their dog’s teeth, canine dental hygiene is so important. “A common problem among dogs and cats, dental disease and oral health issues can cause your pet pain, making it difficult for him or her to eat,” says Pet Md. “If left untreated, oral health issues may even lead to heart and kidney disease.” If your pup isn’t a fan of getting his teeth brushed, use specialized treats and toys to keep his mouth clean.
Next: You can never be too prepared.
10. Have a dog first aid kit on hand
You never know what’s going to happen, so it’s good to be prepared. It definitely doesn’t hurt to at least have a doggy first aid kit around the house or in your car (or both). “This should include Neosporin, latex gloves, cotton balls, peroxide or rubbing alcohol, gauze, and a list of phone numbers of local veterinary and emergency clinics you can call,” says wikiHow.
Next: You have to keep your dog’s blood sugar at a healthy level, too.
11. Keep an eye on their blood sugar
Keeping your blood sugar at a healthy level is important for living a long life. Dogs are no exception. “Although geneticists recently discovered that dogs can digest carbohydrates better than their ancestor the wolf, veterinary researchers have also demonstrated that the amount of starch a dog eats determines how much its blood sugar spikes,” says the Huffington Post. “If dogs eat too much starch, they can eventually suffer from diabetes and obesity.”
Next: Your neighbors will thank you for this.
12. Don’t let your dog roam around freely
Pets who are allowed to roam around freely, unsupervised, are way more at risk of things like getting hit by a car, contagious diseases, exposure to poison, and predation. Additionally, “allowing your pet to roam unsupervised may alienate your neighbors should your pet ever ‘relieve’ him- or herself in their lawn or dig up their garden,” says Pet Md. It’s better for everyone (your dog included) to keep an eye on him.
Next: Just like humans, dogs need this, too.
13. Give them mental stimulation
A mentally unstimulated dog can become depressed, anxious, sick, and start to act out. Another way you can extend your dog’s life is by keeping him mentally busy and entertained. “As she ages, keep her mind active with training, socialization, games, one-on-one attention, and other enrichment activities,” says Daily Treat.
Next: Don’t forget about regular vet visits.
14. Go to the vet regularly
Our pets can’t communicate like we can, so it’s harder to know when something’s wrong. Regular vet checkups are important because you might not always be able to tell when there’s a problem with your dog’s health. “In many cases, an early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment,” says Pet Md. “Early diagnosis is also likely to be less costly for you than waiting until your pet’s illness has become advanced and serious before attempting treatment.”
Next: The perfect bonding activity for you and your dog.
15. Take your dog on trips
Most dogs love a good car ride so taking a road trip with your pup is an excellent bonding activity for the two of you. “You can take your dog camping or hiking. These types of outings increase your dog’s overall happiness, and camping and hiking may even give your pet some extra exercise,” says wikiHow. A dog who gets to go on fun and safe adventures with his person is more likely to live a long, happy life.
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