If there’s one downside to having dogs, it’s that they just don’t live long enough. An English Bulldog’s life expectancy is only 8 to 10 years, and even if you own a Chihuahua that lives to the ripe old age of 20, the years never seem like enough. Until we come up with a cure for canine mortality, the best we can do is take steps to ensure that our dogs see as many healthy years as possible. If you want to keep your four-legged friend around for years to come, consider the following tips.
- Keep Your Dog on a Healthy Diet
Diet is the No. 1 indicator of human longevity, and the same is true for dogs. Many commercial dog foods are chock-full of filler ingredients like corn and grain and lacking in important nutrients like vitamins and high-quality lean protein. The single most important thing you can do for your dog is to provide them with a high-quality diet consisting of natural ingredients rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Also, remember that certain foods are harmful to dogs, including avocados, onions, garlic, grapes, dairy products, macadamia nuts, and chocolate.
- Always Looks for Signs of Discomfort
If your dog shows signs of discomfort, she’s usually trying to tell you something. Behaviors like whimpering, limping, or a sudden lack of energy may warrant a trip to the vet. If the dog scratches or bites her fur, this may indicate a food allergy. Research indicates that 1 to 2 percent of dogs have some form of food allergy or intolerance, and if your dog falls into this demographic, it’s important to adjust the diet as soon as possible. By staying on top of any possible health issues, you can prevent small problems from turning into big problems.
- Get Out and Exercise
The average dog needs about 30 minutes of daily exercise to promote a long and healthy life, but the optimal amount of activity will depend on the breed. For instance, an Australian Shepherd will require about an hour a day of high-energy exercise, while a Basset Hound shouldn’t need more than a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Read up on the exercise needs of your own dog, and make sure he gets the recommended amount of activity each day.
- Care for Your Dog’s Teeth
Your dog needs regular dental exams and teeth cleanings just like you do. Like humans, dogs can suffer the negative effects of plaque buildup, which over time can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. If the problem goes untreated, it can even lead to heart and kidney infections. To prevent tooth decay, purchase an at-home teeth cleaning kit for dogs and use it as recommended — usually about twice a week. Also make sure to take your dog to the vet for an annual dental exam.
Most importantly, remember that a happy dog is a healthy dog. The more love you give, the more years you’ll have to enjoy with your furry friend.