As dog lovers, we want to do everything that we can to make sure our four-legged best friends live long, healthy and happy lives. We toss the ball for them in the backyard, take them on walks, visit dog parks and give them lots of cuddles. But there are several more things that we can do to help extend our dog's life.
1. Socialize Your Dog
The best time to introduce dogs to a variety of people and pets is when they are puppies. Give your dog a chance to safely socialize with other dogs whenever possible.
2. Help Your Dog Maintain a Healthy Weight
Overweight dogs get many of the same conditions that overweight people do, such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and even senile dementia. The Pet Obesity Foundation tells us that one of every two canines is overweight, but over 90% of owners of obese dogs think they are normal weight. Ask your veterinarian about the ideal weight for your dog, and limit portions to help them maintain it. Obesity is also a significant risk factor for canine cancer.
3. Don't Feed Your Dog Table Scraps
Dogs can’t thrive on the bread, potatoes, cereals, and sweets that their owners like to consume. Their digestive tracts aren't made for fried or foods with too much fat, either. Instead, give them veterinarian-approved treats.
4. Exercise Your Dog Every Day
You don't necessarily have to take the same walk down the same street to the same dog park every time, but your dog needs some active playtime every day. Make time in your schedule to keep your dog physically active. Staying active with your dog can help to maintain your own health, too.
5. Don’t Push Certain Breeds Too Hard
Boxers, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and Pugs don't stand up to heat very well. Sight-hounds like Greyhounds and Whippets can be very sensitive to chemicals. Breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia like Mastiffs, Pugs, Rottweilers, Great Danes, and Labradors should be kept off stairs. Know the weaknesses of your dog's breed and don't push them to the point where they develop a health crisis.
6. Supervise Your Dogs When Outside
Unsupervised dogs are especially at risk of traffic accidents around sunset and sunrise, when drivers and dogs have trouble seeing each other. And no dog should be allowed to interact with wildlife. Birds, raccoons, possums, and even squirrels carry parasitic diseases that can sicken pets.
7. Don't Expose Your Dog to Secondhand Smoke
Dogs can get COPD, emphysema, asthma, and lung cancer, too. Minimize their exposure to smoke, both tobacco smoke and smoke from wood-burning fireplaces.
8. Keep up with Annual Vaccines & Heartworm Prevention
Parvovirus, distemper, rabies and heartworm are devastating canine illnesses. Keep up with their annual vaccines and ask your vet for preventative heartworm medication. It takes just a few minutes a month to give your dog a chewable heartworm tablet that can add years to your dog's life.
9. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Can you imagine what kind of oral health you would have if you never brushed your teeth? The same kind of fate befalls dogs who don’t get proper dental hygiene. Dogs can get cavities and gum disease and lose teeth. This ‘gum disease’ is also known as periodontitis and if left unchecked can lead to other conditions in the body such as endocarditis and kidney disease. (Endocarditis is a life-threatening inflammation of the inner lining of your heart's chambers and valves.) Brushing your dog's teeth just three times a week—with a dog-appropriate toothbrush and canine-friendly toothpaste—can help them keep their teeth healthy into their golden years.
10. See Your Vet for Annual Exams
Some diseases like canine cancer are much more treatable if they are detected early. Make sure your dog gets an annual wellness exam to check for lumps, bumps and other issues. If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, consider feeding them Canine Biologics’ human-grade food, wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil and specialized supplements to support their health and keep them happy and active.