How to Have Your Dog Live Longer
By Colin Albert
Every dog owner will want to ensure that their dog will enjoy a long and healthy life. But how long is the average life of your particular breed of dog and what can you do to increase the possibility that your dog will live longer than expected?
A myth has developed that one year of a dog’s life is equal to seven human years, so that, for example, a dog at age one is like a human child at age seven, and a 5-year old dog is the equivalent of a human adult of 35.
Actually, there is no established linear correlation between dog years and human years. Dogs mature much more quickly than humans. A dog at age one has generally achieved its full growth and is sexually active – this is obviously not true of a seven year old human child. So a dog at age one is similar to a teenager, who has some growing out to do but is more or less mature physically. Thereafter each year in a dog’s life may be seen as about equal to 4 to 6 human years.
Overall, the life expectancy of American dogs is around twelve years on average. But the actual expected life span of any particular dog is highly dependent on its breed. Generally speaking, the larger the breed of dog, the shorter its life will be. Veterinarians guess that this is because larger dogs’ bodies must work harder than those of their smaller compatriots.
The average life spans for some of the most common breeds of dogs are: 7-10 years: Great Dane, Newfoundland, Doberman Pinscher, Bulldog, Rottweiler; 9-11 years: St. Bernard, Bloodhound, Chow Chow, Boxer; 10-13 years: Airedale Terrier, Dalmatian, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Scottish Terrier, Afghan Hound, Dachshund, Irish Setter; 12-15 years: Beagle, Bichon Frise, Collie, Doberman, Pomeranian, Border Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Greyhound, Labrador; 14-16 years: Boston Terrier, Irish Setter, Standard Poodle, Schnauzer, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier; 15-18 years: Dachshund, Miniature and Toy Poodle, Chihuahua.
The life expectancies set out above are for purebred dogs. Inbreeding and pure breeding can weaken the gene pool and reduce life expectancy, as a unique pool increases the likelihood of an undesirable trait influencing your dog’s genetic makeup dog.
So what can be done to increase the chance of your dog beating the statistical norms for its particular breed and living a longer than average life? Obviously seeing to it that your dog gets plenty of exercise is important. And, like humans, dogs seem to thrive better in an atmosphere that is relatively stress-free.
Most important is your dog’s diet. Dogs are carnivores and as such require a diet heavy in meat proteins, as high as 42% for puppies. Unfortunately the manufactured foods we buy for them at the supermarket or local pet store, while being high in protein, for the large part use cereal grain protein sources. You should try to feed them a supplement that contains high grade meat proteins. In addition, to help ward off the chances of cancer, it is advisable that the supplement contain immune enhancers. To ward off skin irritations and the seemingly inevitable scratching, an anti-inflammatory supplement containing a proper balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids should be added to the daily diet. As dogs are very prone to joint diseases as they grow older, a Cox-2 inhibitor can prove very useful. And of course the supplement should be rich in vitamins and minerals.
Setting aside thirty minutes each day to play with your dog and to see that it gets a decent amount of daily exercise, while keeping a watchful eye on its diet, can go a long way to ensuring your dog leads a long and healthy life. And be sure to take your dog to the veterinarian annually for a thorough examination.
Colin Albert runs the TakeCareofYourPet web site. The web site discusses information about a new product called Hope for Pets, a natural supplement that is amongst the very best nutritional supplements on the market to aid in promoting long, healthy lives for our pets.
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