Can dogs live forever? Yes, they will live forever in our hearts and memories, but sadly, just like humans, dogs have an "expiration date". Scientists and researchers are working hard every day to learn more about the canine anatomy and the illnesses that befall our furry friends. A dog lives an average of 15 years. That is not long enough - by far, but perhaps, one day, science can help extend our best buddy's years with us.
Some people may even consider cloning their dog, but that "clone" is not really your best buddy. Our advice to every dog lover and pawrent out there? Cherish every day you have with your fur babies. The bond we share with our dogs can never die. There are, however, lots of things we can do while they are here to ensure they enjoy a healthy and productive life with us.
Signs of a Healthy Dog
We are paw-parents who want our fur babies to be as healthy as possible. We do this by ensuring they receive proper nutrition, exercise, and routine vet visits for shots and checkups. Some signs you are raising a healthy dog are apparent and numerous, including a shiny coat, fresh breath, clear eyes, a lean body, regular pees and poos, clean and non-stinky ears, steady gait and an alert and happy demeanor.
A dog's body language is constantly telling us something. The trick is to know what to look for. A happy, relaxed dog will have his mouth open slightly with light panting. If there is tension in your dog's face, they are constantly yawning or licking their lips, or he/she is panting to excess, maybe a visit to the vet is in order. A relaxed and healthy doggo's ears will be just resting on the side of their head, their tail will be relaxed, and they will exhibit a solid gait when walking or playing. If your dog is limping or tires out too easily, it's time for a vet visit.
Some other signs your dog is healthy include his overall demeanor. When we are sick, we just don't want to be touched and it is the same with our furry counterparts. Your dog should respond to getting cuddles and pats pawsitively, so if they snap or growl at you when you touch them, chances are they don't feel well or they have injured the part of their body you just touched. If you notice your dog yelps when walking, this is also a sure indicator of pain and/or injury.
The History of Dogs Living Long
The oldest-living dog in history was Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog that lived to be 29 years of age (1910-1939). Rest in Peace Old Boy! On the average, however, dogs lived between 12 and 15 years. It seems that the size of the dog breed itself has some bearing on that number. Sadly, giant breeds' lifespans (St. Bernard, Irish Wolfhound, etc.) are shorter than most other dogs - living on the average only 6-8 years.
Of course, diet, weight, and size have a lot to do with how long our furry buddies will live, too. If they are too heavy, dogs will develop heart disease and joint issues; if they are too small, they can develop thyroid or bone issues. The best thing we can do to help our buddies stay healthy is to make sure they get lots of love, exercise, good nutrition and regular check-ups at the vet.
Science Behind Long Dog Lives
The Dog Aging Project is currently underway at the University of Washington in Seattle. Scientists and researchers are hoping to find out why some dogs develop terminal illnesses while other dogs live long, productive and healthy lives. They are hopeful that their research will ultimately extend dogs' lives on average between two and four healthy years. The test subjects, in this case, are a large group of middle-aged dogs who are administered the drug Rapamycin, an FDA-approved drug proven to increase lifespan, improve internal organ functions and guard against cancer.
So far, the results have been astounding, considering one of the doggos has an artificial heart but seems to be thriving and vibrant now that he is on this medication! More and more dogs are being taken into the study and the team at UW is hopeful to increase their test doggies to more than 1000 someday soon, some dogs being administered the medicine and some others being administered a placebo. Come on team UW - you are doing great work!
Training Your Dog to Live Healthy
Some things you can do to help your dog stay active and healthy throughout their life is to not overfeed them, feed them high-quality diets, give them plenty of exercise (maybe even sign them up for an agility class or two), let them have play dates at the dog park with other doggies so they can get fresh air and socialization, and always take them to the vet for regular checkups and dental cleanings.
You can also leave interactive toys at the house while you are away. These toys cause the dog to think about how to free the treats from the toy. Not only will your dog get a yummy treat, but he will also be cerebrally stimulated in the process - win-win!
It's also important to remember that stress is the archnemesis of good health. Stress causes certain hormones to be released that can wear down organs over time. Keep your pupper as stress-free as possible! You can do this by ensuring they are stimulated, that all who interact with them treat them well, and that they are never left alone for too long.
By a Smooth Coated Collie lover Mary Alane Whalen
Published: 02/26/2018, edited: 04/06/2020