Dog Life Spans

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Increasing the life span of your dog is a topic we love to read about and write about. We firmly believe that being healthy and fit will help your dog live a longer and happier life. But how long should you expect your dog to live and what can you do to give them a longer life? There are life expectancy charts that we have published previously that give you an average life spans by breed of dog that you can review. But increasing their longevity is within your control, so we wanted to give you some insight and tips on increasing the odds that your dog will live a longer, healthier life:
jack on balance2

  1. Healthy weight: We know that “healthy” is subjective and what many people think is healthy is usually about 5lbs too heavy. A dog is better off on the slender side rather than on the heavy side, so err on the side of being too slim. If you feed your dog a healthy diet you likely won’t need to supplement their vitamin intake, but you must read the label and know what you are giving your dog. Our rule of thumb is too feed your dog the highest quality food you can afford.
  2. Exercise: we can’t talk about the importance of exercise enough. It’s critical for your health as well as your dog’s health. Even if it’s just a 15 minute walk two times a day – movement is life.
  3. Social interaction: It’s important for dogs to interact with their own kind. It builds a healthy well-rounded and stimulated dog as well as gives them time for play. Play is as important to your dog’s mental state as vacations and Sunday football games or outings to the beach are to yours. Be sure to indulge in both!
  4. mental exercise maggie01

  5. Mental stimulation: Sitting in front of the TV watching reruns of Seinfeld can be good, mindless entertainment on occasion. But doing it all the time, turns your brain into mush. The same holds true for dogs, the same toy, the same game of fetch, the same walk become boring and routine and their brain starts slowing down. Keep your pup stimulated by changing the routine – try a different route for your walk – buy new toys once in awhile, use some brain stimulating treat dispensing toys to really give their brain a workout.
  6. Regular Vet Checks: You are the best monitor of your dogs health, but regular physical checkups to detect underlying problems that you can’t see is also critical to keeping a healthy pet. Don’t wait till it’s an emergency.
  7. Meet your dogs needs: Adjusting the routine to meet the dog’s needs is an item not talked about enough. We’ve started to notice Jack is slowing down a tiny bit and while he is still strong as an ox we know it is time to adjust our routines with him. That means shorter runs, a little less food to keep his weight down and arthritis at bay and most of all a heightened awareness on our end for signs of stress, discomfort or illness. Dogs are naturally stoic. They try hard not to show signs of pain or discomfort, so you have to be able to read them in order to identify small problems before they become big problems.

    I know that’s a long list, but if you are looking to increase your dog’s life span then it’s something you have to work at to attain. Just as it takes work to keep yourself healthy, it takes work to keep your dog healthy too.
    Tell us what YOU do to give your dog a longer life.


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  1. Excellent post!
    We change the route of our walks often. It is not hard to tell when they are bored of the same walks. So after one or two nights of one route, we will switch. There are also lots of areas where we live that we can explore different places, and they love that! Thanks for linking up to Thoughtless Thursday with us!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Thoughtless Thursday – Benny Bully’sMy Profile

    • It’s kind of amazing the energy a new walk creates!
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  2. Seinfeld… one of the few shows I’ll catch on syndication and still sit and watch a full episode of. So good. Definitely stands the test of time!
    But that’s off-topic.
    We’ve definitely adjusted our routines for Moses as he ages, which also means adding and altering routines for Alma so her needs are still met as the younger, fitter dog. Other things like diet, weight, exercise, socialization haven’t really changed for Mo, since they’ve always been important, though the exercise is definitely lower impact than it once was – no carting and no long hikes for the big guy these days.
    Jen K recently posted…Monday Mischief 24: Chow Time!My Profile

    • We have a bunch of Seinfelds on the DVR for those times you just need a dose 😉
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  3. I couldn’t agree with this more. For most people, as their dog starts to age they start giving it more treats/people food and eliminating exercise. I see this a lot when it comes to giant breeds. People figure that because they have a shorter life span they don’t have to keep up with exercise and stimulation past the age of 6. It is so critical to keep them moving, thinking, and healthy so they can live a long, happy life. Great post 🙂
    Kelsie recently posted…How To Get Your Dog To Stop Barking in 7 Easy StepsMy Profile

    • Our Jack & Maggie, both age 11, are out for a short run right now with dad. Movement is life.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  4. We try to have an eye on the weight and we are careful with vaccinations. And we look for good food – thanks to you, I learnt a lot about the ingredients and the content of food.
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog WEIGHTLESS WEDNESDAYMy Profile

    • We’re glad to help Easy – we want you around as our friend for as long as possible!
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  5. After a while I start to have 4 or 5 fixed routes that I take walking Donna. And you can tell that she has these routes memorised because once in a while I decided to take a different direction from what she was used to and she will keep looking at me as if checking to see if I really meant to be going that way 😉
    weliveinaflat recently posted…Donna finds shelter from Thunder PhobiaMy Profile

    • Yeah, mine do that too, and they are like…’Where you going mom?”
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  6. Due to circumstance beyond our control, we have yet to have a dog make it past 8. It is my goal to have a double digit dog! We are doing all the above, working hard to keep them healthy and happy!
    Hailey and Zaphod recently posted…Be SafeMy Profile

    • That’s a good goal! Good luck.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  7. I don’t see an Australian Shepherd on the list, but Flash and Patches are mixed with German Shepherd, so their 12 years is already an achievement. I’m hoping they’ll live to see a couple more.
    Flea recently posted…All Things Natural, NaturallyMy Profile

    • No Aussie? I’ll have to check that list and update it!
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  8. As to social interaction and stimulation, and having had just one dog versus two, I think it might help to have more than one dog.
    Flea recently posted…All Things Natural, NaturallyMy Profile

    • I think you are right – play buddy as well as just simply company.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  9. Great tips although they are just as addicted to TV sports as Dog Dad.
    Bailey recently posted…Sudbury Center Historical TourMy Profile

  10. I really need some ideas for Sampson. The physical therapist says he last weighed 89 pounds on their scale. She would like to see him drop 5 more pounds. I’m not sure how to do this. He is walked twice per day 15 to 20 minutes (I don’t have an exact time because he stops for potty breaks) at each walk but he can’t really do much more than that because of his bum leg and he will be 10 this July so I can’t really push him too hard.

    We feed raw and feed it based on what we want him to weigh, I measure it out every meal. He should bet 12.4 oz twice per day and I dropped it down a bit, so I give him 12.2, because I do add some pumpkin and yogurt to their diets, but I’m still flummoxed as to how to get him to drop those last five pounds without starving him to death. He’s already so stressed out from the surgery and his restrictions. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    And thank you so much for joining the blog hop!!
    Jodi recently posted…Let It GoMy Profile

    • One of the things we did with Jack because he does have a HUGE appetite, is feed him more often so he doesn’t feel starved. Measure the same amount of food, but give it to him more often through the course of the day – keep something in his belly. We also supplement with veggies as ‘free foods’ – so he gets the munchies – we give him a carrot. Also, how about swimming? Low impact, but great exercise – is he cleared for that?
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

      • So far he is only doing the underwater treadmill and some cavaletti’s. I haven’t asked about swimming but he is not a big swimmer to begin with and I don’t even know where I could take him around here.

        I can add some more veggies though. 🙂
        Jodi recently posted…Let It GoMy Profile

  11. We love this post. What makes for long life spans seems to be the same for humans and canines.
    jan recently posted…When dog food companies eat each other, I have to believe it will be good for us pet ownersMy Profile

    • Funny how that works huh?
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  12. I can always count on Slimdoggy for motivation!! Great tips because we all want our best friends to live as long as possible!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Flat Pet Bentley’s BlogPaws Conference CollageMy Profile

  13. Oh slim dog, thanks for the reminder. Ruckus is long due for his annual. WHOOPS.

    Thanks for sharing on Thoughtless Thursday! – Ruckus the Eskie
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…April 2014 PetBox ReviewMy Profile

  14. I try not to get too obsessed with this as my dogs age I am trying my best not to worry. I agree movement is super important. I have the hcallenge that two of my dogs wont walk with out both me and my husband present. I plan to ensure this doesnt happen in the future by getting all my dogs to walk with us together and apart. Right now everyone gets a short walk during the week and long walks on the weekend. WEasley gets daily long walks because he can go farther, no arthritis, I make sure though that each dog gets walking and its so important

    retro rover

    • Walking is great for them AND for you too.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  15. Slowing down is the hardest. Katie always wants to participate but once we get started she often can’t keep up, so we have to leave her behind and Mom goes out with her separately. It is sad, but a fact of life.
    Emma recently posted…How To Show Your Pet Love While Achieving Weight Loss | #HillsPetMy Profile

    • I know – we hated when we had to leave Sally behind. We even got a cart to ride her in – she hated the cart.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  16. Great tips! I know I want my two to be around as long as possible.
    Stacey recently posted…Spring Sunday at HomeMy Profile

  17. I have decided that Mort will live until he is 18, so that’s only another 15 years of being hyper paranoid about his health. 🙂

    In all seriousness, these are fantastic tips. I’d love to wrap Mort in bubble wrap to keep him safe as well. Which number would that be? We have had 3 emergency vet visits with in in the 2.5 years he has been in our care – and they were all non-preventable… kind of. Well, one accident and another was doing something we perceived as beneficial (raw bones). Our previous dog also passed from a rare, chance disease of unknown cause (IMHA). However, it has inspired us to add a few more ways to try and prevent illness: avoid pesticide-based preventatives doing a careful risk-assessment based on location, and absolutely avoid over-vaccination by way of titer testing. And because of our latest mishap, we’re sticking to raw grind and avoiding raw bones. These too, I believe, can help prolong life. Had to learn the hard and expensive way, though.

    Oh yeah, another number to help prolong life: consider insurance or a savings account so you can afford the emergency visits and do what needs to be done! Don’t ask me how much. Basically a very nice car could have been purchased…

    Yep, a lot of is chance in my opinion… you try to do the best thing (feed raw, use preventatives, vaccinate, etc), and sometimes it backfires because chance isn’t on your side! But long story short, anxiety is also a life shortener so have to keep that in check too. Maybe no bubble wrap.
    Jen recently posted…This potential dog sport pro needs a place to stay: foster or adopt Macy! #sfbayarea #adoptMy Profile

    • Eighteen would be wonderful wouldn’t it…especially after the scare you had last week! Bubble wrap might not be bad for an active guy like him.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  18. Thanks so much for joining the hop. That is a good solid list. I think keeping an older dog’s weight in check is one of the most important things.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–Collars And CandiesMy Profile

    • It is a critical factor for sure.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  19. Exercise, mental stimulation, and regular check ups are on the top of our list to a longevity. We also feed our dogs fresh homemade food because nutrition, along with the healthy weight, is also a huge part of longevity.
    Mark at DBDT recently posted…Fostering, Adoptions, Pedigree Foundation, and youMy Profile

  20. Hi Y’all!

    I love the traveling we do because I get to see lots of stuff and read pee mail. One of my favorite things about vet visits is when there are other dogs there and sometimes their owners let them meet me.

    The two retrievers who preceded me lived to the ripe old ages of 16 and 15 years. I figure my Humans will do their best to make sure I live at least that long.

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Lots of Barks and a Few Thoughtless? Bytes Too…My Profile

    • Those are good long lives – your Humans must take good care of them.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  21. I like to walk my dog in new areas to keep exposing him to different things and to keep up with his socialization. I should do more trick training and teaching him new things as well as puzzles. Great list! All I can think of to add would be doing your best to avoid as many toxins as possible. They are everywhere, but using natural products whenever possible has to help over the long run for all of us.
    Lindsay recently posted…5 reasons Craigslist is a valuable tool for dog adoptionsMy Profile

    • That’s a good addition, but you are right – they are everywhere, so it’s so hard. Just have to be vigilant.
      mkob recently posted…Dog Life SpansMy Profile

  22. We are currently able to cross all these items off our list for Nailah. 🙂 I am pretty paranoid about her health so we go to the vet twice a year for check ups and bloodwork once a year.
    Nailah Bone recently posted…Thoughtful Thursday – Remembering the Loss of My Pet & Celebrating My Dog’s BirthdayMy Profile

  23. Definitely all of the above plus the best nutrition I can afford.
    Jana Rade recently posted…Don’t Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie’s Mysterious BumpsMy Profile

  24. Well said. I give my pooches many hugs and love to help them live longer (if only that was enough). 😉

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