We all want our dogs to be by our sides forever, but unfortunately, there are limits on just how much these amazing creatures can achieve. However, if you're wondering whether dogs can live to the ripe old age of 20, the answer is a definite yes — but only in rare cases.
So, which breeds live the longest and what can you do to improve your pet's longevity? Keep reading to find out.
Signs of Old Age in Dogs
The first sign many people notice is a change in their dog's energy and activity levels. While most dogs naturally tend to relax and slow down a little as they mature, the pain of stiff joints and simply the tiredness that comes with growing old can see them start taking life at their own pace.
You may notice that your pooch takes a while to get moving in the morning, especially in winter, or that they're simply not all that enthusiastic about exercise anymore and are much happier curling up for a snooze in the sun.
Just like humans, dogs can also start to lose their hearing and sight as old age encroaches. You might notice cloudy eyes, your dog bumping into objects, or maybe that your pooch doesn't always respond straight away when you call their name. Increased urination is another telltale sign, and crankiness, irritability, and even confusion and disorientation may also occur.
Seeing these signs in your gorgeous fur-baby can be heart-wrenching, but growing old doesn't mean your dog can't enjoy a happy and fulfilling life.
- Lack of focus
- Dropped Ears
- Hearing and vision loss
- Behavior changes
- Slowing down
- Lack of energy and reluctance t exercise
- More frequent urination
- Confusion and disorientation
- Graying muzzle
The Oldest Dogs Ever
The second oldest dog to have lived is a Beagle named Butch, who reportedly lived for 28 years from 1975 to 2003. There are more than a dozen other sensational seniors to have had their ages authenticated, and all of them lived to be at least 20 years or older.
However, there have been plenty of other owners claiming to be the proud pet parent of some amazingly long-lived pooches. For example, in 1984, a Labrador / Australian Cattle Dog Cross was reported to have passed away in Queensland, Australia, at the age of 32. Elsewhere, when a Labrador named Bella passed away in the United Kingdom in 2008; her owner claimed she was 29 years old. However, with no documentation to support the claim, Bella's long life never received any official recognition.
Science Behind Dogs Living to be 20
- Size. On average, smaller dogs live much longer than large breeds. For example, while it's not too uncommon for Chihuahuas and Jack Russell Terriers to live for 15 years or even more, Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds have an average life expectancy of around 8 to 10 years.
- Genetics. The genes your dog inherits play a crucial role in determining the diseases they are prone to and how quickly they age.
- Diet, exercise, and weight. Feeding a high-quality diet that's specially formulated to provide all the nutrients your pet needs is crucial, while regular exercise is similarly essential for general health and wellbeing. These can also help ensure that your pooch stays in a suitable weight range throughout their life, which lowers their chances of suffering from a long list of potential health problems.
- The care you give them. You can also have a big say in how long your dog lives. By spaying or neutering your pet, vaccinating them against dangerous infectious diseases, and staying up to date with parasite prevention, you'll greatly improve their longevity.
Caring for an Older Dog
The key is adjusting your lifestyle and routine to suit your pet. For example, your five-mile runs together may gradually come to be replaced by relaxing strolls; rather than doggy sports like flyball or disc throwing, your pooch might prefer a lazy game of tug-of-war or maybe just a bit of snuggle time.
Your veterinarian will also play an important role in caring for your senior pooch. Speak to your vet about how to feed the right diet for your golden oldie, and keep an eye out for any worrying health symptoms that might require veterinary attention. Scheduling regular check-ups will also help you detect any problems as they arise.
Finally, remember to be willing to adapt to suit your pet. Don't force them to exercise when it's beyond their capabilities, don't get frustrated if they're a bit slower to come when called, and make sure you keep involving your pet in family life as much as possible.
Most importantly, don't forget to make the most of the precious time you have together!
How to Help Your Dog Live a Long and Healthy Life:
Feed the right diet. Give your dog a premium pet food designed for dogs of its breed and life stage. This will ensure that your pooch gets all the nutrients they need to stay as healthy as possible.
Give regular exercise. Along with diet, regular exercise is essential for your dog's overall well-being and can help them maintain a healthy weight. This will, in turn, reduce their risk of suffering from health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and even arthritis.
Stay on top of preventative care. Speak to your veterinarian about how and when to vaccinate your dog, the benefits of spaying/neutering, and how to protect your pet against parasites.
Schedule regular vet visits. Yearly or even six-monthly check-ups from your vet will help you detect any health issues as they arise and hopefully they develop into more serious problems.