People have been looking for the Fountain of Youth, either literally or figuratively, probably for as long as people have been walking the earth. We want to stay young longer and have more years with our friends and family, more time to travel and explore the world. As the closeness of our relationships with our pets has increased over time, you might find yourself wishing that if you could find the Fountain of Youth, that your dog could jump in there with you. After all, loving your dog as much as you do, the usual 10 – 12 year lifespan of a dog just doesn’t seem like enough time.
Below, you will find twelve tips that, while not the Fountain of Youth, can contribute to your dog living a happier, healthier, and hopefully longer life with you and your family. You’ll find that most of them are the same bits of advice that would be on a list of ways to lengthen your own life. In fact, you might find that you and your dog can take on some of these lifestyle changes together, or that you can adapt them to human needs. After all, your dog wants you around as long as possible too.
Spay or Neuter Your Dog
A neutered male dog cannot develop testicular cancer and has a much lower chance of prostate cancer. A spayed female dog has a much lower chance of developing ovarian cancer, infections of the uterus, and complications while giving birth.
Help Your Dog Maintain a Healthy Weight
As with humans, obesity can come with a whole host of potential health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and joint wear and tear. Feed your dog the appropriate amount, consider switching to a lower calorie dog food, cut out the table scraps, and...
Make Sure Your Dog Gets Plenty of Exercise
Exercise will lower your dog’s risk of obesity and all the health problems that come with it. It will also help your dog to fend off depression and help the two of you build a stronger bond.
Maintain Good Dental Hygiene
Dental health is often an indicator of overall health. An animal or a human with poor dental health is at risk for many serious health issues. The most lethal are bacterial infections of the mouth that can spread through the bloodstream, causing serious illness and even death. Brush your dog’s teeth and have their teeth cleaned periodically at the vet.
Take Your Dog to the Vet for Regular Check-Ups
Although your veterinarian can’t magically make your dog live longer, regular check ups may result in your vet catching illnesses while they are easier to treat and before they spread to other parts of the body.
Be Consistent with Heartworm, Tick, and Flea Preventation
Not only is heartworm very expensive and painful to treat in a dog, it can be deadly. Also, ticks and fleas can carry diseases and parasites that could shorten your dog’s life. To help your dog live longer, never miss a dose. Plus, whether your dog’s life is lengthened, don’t you want your dog to be comfortable and healthy during the years she does have?
Keep Your Dog Current on Vaccinations
Check with your vet as to what immunizations are required in your state and what, if any, optional vaccinations your vet recommends. Core vaccines are for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Any of these illness, if contracted, will likely shorten your dog’s life. If you ever board your dog, you will likely be required to have him vaccinated for Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough) as well.
Maintain a Comfortable, Low-Stress Environment for Your Dog
Persistent stress, perhaps from being treated poorly by other animals, children, or adults can have many of the same effects on your dog as it would have on you. An anxious dog
Keep Your Dog Company
Dogs are pack animals. They tend to be very social. Generally, a dog that is left alone for long periods of time will not be happy and may even develop depression. Spend time with your dog, put your dog in doggie day care if you can, have friends or neighbors check in on your dog, or have more than one dog. Depression can weaken the immune system, resulting in a dog that is more apt to get sick. Playing with, training, and/or challenging your dog can also help your dog’s long-term mental health and abilities as well.
Make Sure Your Dog Can’t Get Loose
There are few things as sad in life as a family pet being hit by a car. Make sure your dog can’t slip out of the house or yard.
Keep Toxic Substances Away from Your Dog
This isn’t just nuclear sludge. There are a lot of substances around your house that, if your dog eats them, the results may very well be tragic. This includes foods such as dark chocolate, xylitol (a sugar free sweetener used in many gums), and grapes/raisins, which can result in kidney failure. You also have to be careful of insecticides, over-the-counter and prescription medications, mouse/rat poison, and household cleaners.
Don’t Expose Your Dog to Secondhand Smoke
Did you know that secondhand smoke has been shown to be associated with lung and nasal cancer in dogs? A dog that is regularly exposed to secondhand smoke will likely have a shorter, perhaps much shorter, life than a dog that is not.
So many of the things that can shorten your life are the same things that can shorten your dog’s life – obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of good dental hygiene and quality healthcare, failure to be immunized against deadly diseases, stress, loneliness, and exposure to cigarette smoke. You and your dog can avoid these life-shortening behaviors together. There are, however, some things you can do for your dog that are more specific to dogs, such as having them altered, keeping them away from toxic substances, and being consistent with heartworm, flea, and tick preventative treatments. All of these tips can help your dog to live a happier, healthier, and hopefully longer life. Every day with your furry friend is a gift, so do all you can to help there be more of those days.