Many of us grew up hearing that every year that a dog lives is equivalent to 7 human years. This is no longer thought to be true; there are many theories and opinions on how old a dog is in human years but the fact of the matter is, every dog is an individual and lifespan is dependent on many different factors. Smaller-breed dogs generally live longer than the giant breeds… but the ‘average’ lifespan is only an estimate – it means that there will be dogs who will have longer lives (and those who will have shorter lives) than the average. Here are a few things that can influence a dog’s lifespan.
#5. Breeding and genetics
Some breeds or types of dogs can be more prone to certain health problems. These can include issues like hip dysplasia, spinal issues, respiratory problems, cancer, or heart problems. Poor breeding can also result in genetic defects. Sometimes genetic conditions are known when dogs are young but this isn’t always true. Medical conditions may not become known until the pet matures. Dog owners may need to compensate for known medical conditions by making some lifestyle changes; for instance, dogs with joint issues need not engage in strenuous hikes but could instead do more swimming or go for shorter, easier walks.
“You are what you eat” – there’s a reason why this saying is so popular. We all need good nutrition to feel our best, and the same goes for our dogs. Good nutrition isn’t just about feeding our pets enough (although that’s important too); it’s about feeding fresh, high-quality, and species-appropriate food that helps our dogs feel their very best.
Dogs who receive poor or inadequate nutrition while they are still young and growing may also develop other health conditions, such as joint issues. Likewise, dogs who are overfed can be just as unhealthy as those who are malnourished; obesity in dogs is a growing and serious problem that can result in shortened lifespans and health complications as a result of the extra weight the pet carries.
#3. Appropriate Veterinary and Health Care
Health care is critical to a dog’s well-being. A minor injury can become a much bigger problem if it isn’t addressed. Dogs who primarily live outdoors don’t always have close contact with people, and so health issues may go undetected or may develop further before they are detected. Even a flea or tick infestation can become life-threatening if left untreated.
Health care isn’t limited to just veterinary or medical care; it’s also something as simple as keeping dogs clean and well-groomed to remove mats, loose fur, and foreign objects that can become lodged in the skin or paws.
Adequate and appropriate exercise is a critical part of good health for our pets. Some types of dogs will require strenuous daily exercise to remain in good physical (and mental) health, but this isn’t true of all dogs. For example, dogs who have hip dysplasia, or who are prone to these issues, may benefit from a lighter exercise routine. Arthritic pets can benefit from forms of exercise such as swimming, which is gentler on the joints. Instead of one long, strenuous walk each day, older dogs may benefit instead from shorter, easier, and more frequent walks.
#1. Living the Good Life
Yes, it’s true… living the good life can help dogs live a long (and happy) life! Dogs who have comfy lives have drastically less stress dealing with many of the things previously mentioned. They have little environmental stress to deal with, are loved and well-cared for. Dogs with fewer stressors, better health, and lots of love have a higher chance of living long and happy lives.