Pet dogs bring so much positivity to the lives of their humans. The only downside is that they don’t live long enough. While their life span is much shorter than humans, a recent study found something that could help your dog age well. Check out the one aspect in your pup’s life that can help boost their longevity.
How Old is Your Dog in Human Years?
According to the American Kennel Club, when dogs reach one year old, they have reached the same maturity as 15-year-old people. The second year is equivalent to about another nine human years. The aging process after the two-year mark will depend on their age and size.
Additionally, smaller breeds are associated with slower aging. Larger breeds are seen to pass away more often from cancer than their smaller counterparts. One possibility is that they grow faster, meaning they age more quickly.
What Can Help Your Dog Age Well
A research study surveyed human parents of over 21,000 dogs and concluded that letting your pet dog “run with the pack” can help them age well.
This study by the Arizona State University (ASU) and Dog Aging Project drew on their large survey that asked owners questions about their pup’s physical activity, environment, diet, behavior, health status, medications and owner demographics. From these questions, they identified five key factors — total household income, neighborhood stability, social time with animals, social time with owners and owner age.
The research team found that financial and household adversity was related to reduced physical mobility and poorer health. However, social support — such as living with other dogs — had an impact that was five times more effective than financial factors.
In addition, dogs in higher-income households were more likely to be diagnosed with illnesses. Researchers say that the better financial capacity, the better access to medical care, allowing diseases to be detected.
It’s worth noting that this study relied on the reports of dog owners, so biases and inaccuracies might be present. However, there’s enough evidence to say how companionship from humans and fellow canines can help your dog age well.
Other Tips to Help Your Dog Age Well
Dogs provide humans with immense joy and love. This time, make it your mission to give back by helping them age gracefully. Check out these tips to add a few years more to your furry friend’s life.
1. Watch the Weight
Obesity is one of the most common health problems and it can contribute to numerous illnesses, such as heart disease, endocrine issues and joint problems. Your dog is overweight if they have a sagging stomach, and the spine and ribs are difficult to feel.
If you think your dog needs to shed pounds, speak to your vet about proper food portioning for your dog. You can research about their breed to help you understand how much exercise they need to stay in tip-top shape.
2. Get out and Exercise
Did you know your oxytocin spikes when you pet and play with your dog? Getting your dog out for exercise can benefit you, too.
Visit a nearby dog park so they can play with other pups. Around 150 minutes of walking weekly is enough to satisfy your pet. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to bring your pup with you. Consult the vet to ensure your four-legged friend is physically and mentally fit to go with you.
Mental stimulation is as essential as physical exercise. You can spend between 10 and 30 minutes daily practicing commands to your dog. As they get better at knowing direct instructions, teach them new ones.
3. Provide the Right Diet
Feeding your furry friend right can positively affect their weight and overall health. If they’re eating large servings of food, try to cut down slowly each day until you reach the ideal size. Manage giving out table food and treats, as they contain extra calories that contribute to their weight gain. Swap usual dog treats with vegetables like green beans and carrots.
Remember that your pet dog requires about 4.5 of protein for every 100 calories they eat. Good sources of this nutrient include green peas, chicken and quinoa.
4. Prioritize Their Comfort
When caring for an older dog, keep them out of extreme temperatures. Bring them in during winter months and summer days. Ensure to keep them hydrated no matter the season. Buy them a firm, cozy bed where they can sleep soundly and comfortably.
5. Adopt a Second Dog
Since the study found that socializing with other dogs helps boost your pup’s longevity, consider adopting another furry friend. Canines are social beings, so having two can keep each other company.
When getting a second dog, ensure that you introduce them to your first pup properly. Supervise their interactions because a fight might occur. Give both pets equal attention, training and love. Most importantly, have patience.
6. Schedule Regular Check-Ups
Your dog should visit the vet at least twice a year, especially if they're already old. The earlier you detect any possible issues, the better chances your furry companion will recover. Neglecting the need for regular lab tests and dental exams can worsen undetected conditions. Your attention to your pet’s dental hygiene, diet and health needs should increase as they age.
Help Your Furry Friend Age Well
Your dog is part of your family. Take care and shower your pup with unconditional love just as you would to any loved one, especially after knowing your social support can help them age well.