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Five ways to help your dog live healthier life
Published on: Saturday, October 09, 2021
By: Shirley Khong
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An overweight dog.
AS ANYONE who has ever lived with a dog will know, it often feels like we don’t get enough time with our furry friends. Most dogs live around an average of 10 to 14 years. 

Although some may naturally live longer, others may be predisposed to certain diseases that can limit their lifespan.

But what many people don’t know is that humans and dogs share many genetic similarities – including a predisposition to age-related cancer. This means that many of the things humans can do to be healthier and live longer, can also work for dogs.

Here are just a few ways that you might help your dog live a longer, healthier life.

1. WATCH THEIR WAISTLINE

One factor that’s repeatedly linked with longevity across a range of species is maintaining a healthy bodyweight. That means ensuring dogs aren’t carrying excess weight, and managing their calorie intake carefully. Not only will a lean, healthy bodyweight be better for your dog in the long term, it can also help to limit the impact of certain health conditions, such as osteo-arthritis.

Carefully monitor and manage your dog’s bodyweight with regular weighing and using feeding guidelines is a good starting point you might need to change food type or the amount you feed to maintain a healthy weight as your dog gets older, or depending on how much activity they get. Knowing exactly how much you are feeding your dog is also a crucial weight-management tool – so weigh their food rather than scooping it.

More generally, good nutrition can be linked to a healthy ageing process, suggesting that what you feed can be as important as how much you feed.

2. PLENTY OF WALKS

Exercise has many psychological and physical benefits, both for our dogs and us humans! Physical activity can help to manage a dog’s bodyweight, and is also associated with anti-ageing effects in other genetically similar species.

While exercise alone won’t increase your dog’s lifespan, it might help protect you both from carrying excess bodyweight. And indeed, research suggests that “happy” dog walks lead to both happy dogs and people.

3. TEACH THEM NEW TRICKS

Ageing isn’t just physical. Keeping your dog’s mind active is also helpful. Contrary to the popular adage, “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks “you might just keep their brain and body younger as a result and the human benefits too!

Even when physical activity might be limited, explore alternative low-impact games and pursuits, that you and your dog can do together. 

4. BONDI

Like many companion animals, dogs develop a clear attachment to their caregivers. The human-dog Bond likely provides companionship – and often, dog lovers describe them as a family member.

A stable caregiver-dog bond can help maintain a happy and mutually beneficial partnership between you and your dog. It can also help you recognise subtle changes in your dog’s behaviour or movement that might signal potential concerns.

Where there is computability between caregiver and dog, this leads to a better relationship, and even benefits for owners, too, including stress relief and exercise. Sharing positive, fun experiences with your dog, including playing with them, are great for cementing your bond.

5. DON’T SKIP VET VISITS

Modern veterinary medicine has seen substantial improvements in preventing and managing health concerns in dogs. Successful vaccination and parasite management programmes have effectively reduced the incidents of disease in both dogs and humans. 

Having a good relationship with your vet will allow you to tailor treatments and discuss your dog’s needs. Regular health checks can also be useful in identifying any potential problems at a treatable stage, such as dental issues or osteo-arthritis, which can cause pain and negatively impact the dog’s wellbeing.

At the end of the day, it’s a combination of our dog’s genetics and the environment they live in that impacts their longevity. So while we can’t change their genetics, there are many things we can do to improve their health that may just help them live a longer, healthier life. 

After all, our dog is part of the family!

A healthy dog. 





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