4 min read

13 Tips to Lengthen Your Dog's Life


Save on pet insurance for your pet

You don't have to choose between your pet and your wallet when it comes to expensive vet visits. Prepare ahead of time for unexpected vet bills by finding the pawfect pet insurance.


As much as we don't like to admit it, our canine compadres will reach their twilight years at some point. A medium-sized dog lives, on average, for 10 to 13 years, which is only a short period compared to our much longer lives. As we build such strong bonds with our dogs, just over a decade doesn't feel like a long time. 

Luckily, you'll find many ways to ensure you spend as much time as possible with your barking buddy. By keeping your pupper happy and healthy, they'll be by your side for longer while living their best life. Plus, improving how you care for your pooch will also keep you in good health! Scroll down to discover 12 tips for helping your dog live longer.

Spay or neuter your pet

Spaying or neutering your pet is one of the easiest ways to ensure they don't develop avoidable health problems. A neutered male dog cannot develop testicular cancer and has a much lower risk 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.

Feed your dog a balanced diet

Obesity can cause 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 kibble, and cut out the table scraps. Talk with your vet if you're thinking about switching your dog to a low-calorie diet.

Related: How to Choose the Right Dog Food

Bulldog eating food out of a red bowl

Ensure your dog gets enough exercise

Exercise will lower your furry friend's risk of obesity and help fight conditions caused by lack of exercise, like arthritis. It will also help your dog fend off depression and strengthen the bond you share with your fur-child.

Related: How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?

Maintain good dental hygiene

Dogs with poor dental health have a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. They can also develop serious bacterial infections of the mouth that can spread through the bloodstream, causing 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

Regular check-ups can help your vet catch and treat diseases early, ensuring the best "pawssible" prognosis for your pup. For example, your dog is much more likely to survive cancer if it's caught early.

Dogs are masters at masking pain, so its usually hard to tell if they have an underlying health problem. Ideally, you should take an adult dog to the vet once a year for a wellness check. Senior dogs should visit the vet once or twice a year. 

Related: How Often Do I Need to Take My Dog to the Vet?

Keep your dog up to date on vaccinations

Ask your vet which immunizations are required in your state and whether they recommend any optional vaccines. Core vaccines are for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Any of these illnesses, if contracted, will likely shorten your dog's life. If you ever board your four-legged friend, you may be required to have them vaccinated for Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough) as well.

Related: These Non-core Vaccines Could Save Your Dog's Life

Golden retriever being hugged by vet in blue scrubs

Be consistent with your pup's parasite preventatives

Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other pests spread diseases, like cat scratch fever, heartworm, and Lyme disease, that could shorten your dog's life. Not only is heartworm very expensive and painful to treat, but it can also be deadly. To help your pooch live longer, never miss a dose of your pup's parasite preventatives. Flea and tick medications typically need to be administered once every 30 days to keep Fido fully protected.

Invest in pet insurance

Some pet parents avoid taking their dog to the vet due to potentially high vet bills. By investing in pet insurance, you won't have to worry about finances if your pooch gets ill or injured. Vet bills can be expensive — for example, teeth extractions resulting from severe gum disease could put your as much as $3,000 out of pocket. Compare pet insurance plans today to find the right provider for your pup. 

Maintain a comfortable, low-stress environment

High stress levels caused by separation anxiety, poor socialization, or a lack of stimulation can adversely affect your dog's mental and physical well-being. An anxious canine is susceptible to illness. Make sure you pay attention to your pup's body language and behavior for signs of stress or anxiety.

Related: 11 Vet-approved Pet Products to Soothe Your Pup's Anxiety

Keep your dog company

Dogs are pack animals and tend to be very social. Generally, a dog that's left alone for long periods of time will not be happy and may even develop depression. Depression can weaken the immune system, resulting in a canine that is more likely to get sick. Playing with or training your furry buddy regularly can also improve their long-term mental health.

Consider booking a dog sitter or walker if you're out of the house a lot to keep your dog company.

person opening front door to apartment greeted by two dogs

Make sure your dog can't get loose

While you may think your back yard is secure, dogs are known for being cunning creatures who can jump or dig their way out of virtually anything. That's why it's extra important to ensure your dog can't slip out of your house or yard.

Have a secure fence on your property, and always supervise your pup when they go out in the yard to stretch their legs. When out on a walk, put a durable leash on them to ensure they stay by your side.

Related: 3 Easy Ways to Prevent Your Pup from Getting Lost

Keep toxic substances in a secure place

In every household, you'll find items and substances that could spell disaster if eaten by a dog.

Common human foods, such as grapes, onions, and chocolate, are all highly toxic to dogs. You also have to be careful of insecticides, over-the-counter and prescription medications, mouse or rat poison, and household cleaners. Ensure you keep all foods, cleaners, and medications locked away or far out of reach of inquisitive snouts. 

Related: Top 10 Most Common Toxins for Dogs

Avoid exposing your dog to environmental contaminants

Environmental contaminants like secondhand smoke and dust particles have a greater effect on a dog's health than you might think. Environmental conditions have been linked to higher levels of carcinogens, neurotoxins, and chemical toxins in dogs.

One study on the effects of secondhand smoke on dogs found that dogs who live in a house with a heavy smoker showed significantly higher lymphocyte and macrophage levels, which increase the risk of cancer. While not all environmental contaminants can be avoided, you should try to avoid exposing your dog to potentially dangerous toxins in their home environment where possible. 

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