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Dogs Increasing Length of Life

Photo credit: theonewithout / Flickr

It’s not unrealistic to expect your dog to live anywhere from eight to twelve years depending on their size and health, but reports of much older dogs living to be as old as twenty have changed the way that owners care for their canine pets.

Your dog is no different than yourself: with proper diet, plenty of mental and physical exercise, and frequent trips to the doctor, your dog can expect to live much longer than a dog which does not have good habits. How can you increase your dog’s longevity?

Food Choices

It’s not just the average American who is overweight, it’s our dogs as well. It’s believed that 50% of American dogs (and cats, for that matter) are overweight since their owners overfeed them, or feed them the wrong foods. First and foremost, dog owners should understand that it’s not healthy for them to leave food out at all times for their dogs to take as they please.

Rather, owners need to carefully limit the amount of food that they give to their dog each day. Dogs are gluttons by nature: wolves will kill prey and consume almost all of it in a single setting, meaning that dogs will eat as much as they can when it’s put in front of them, even if they are not hungry, since they have the natural instinct to eat regardless of the circumstance.

Make sure that your dog eats all the food you give them in a single serving. The type of food you feed them matters less than the quantity, but always ensure that you’re feeding a dog food with the highest percentage of meat possible. Dogs have no problem metabolizing grains.

In fact, that’s the only gene that sets them apart from wolves, but they need to eat whole grains and not corn meal in their food.

Exercise: Mental And Physical

What dogs eat matters, but if they cannot burn off the calories they eat then they’ll become unhappy regardless of their meals. In nature, canines spend much of the day exercising, whether it’s ranging dozens of miles outward to patrol their territory, or running at full speed to bring down prey, or playing with one another in the pack.

It’s crucial to give your dog at least as much exercise as an ordinary person should get (an hour per day), but if they don’t get mental exercise in addition to outdoor activity they’ll become sluggish, and less responsive to your commands.

Dogs enjoy learning, though some do so at different rates than others. You can give your dog mental exercise by training them in different commands, by leading them through obstacle courses, or by setting them to a task such as collecting sticks of only a certain length. Demonstrate tasks for your dog whenever possible, so that they see how the pack leader would do it in their place.

A Healthy Lifetime

The shorthand goes that a dog ages seven years for each year that passes, but in reality there’s no reason why a dog cannot be fit, and spry as they approach a double digit age. Keep your dog healthy and happy by maintaining good quantities and qualities of food, as well as providing exercise for their muscles and mind to keep them looking forward to the next task.

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