These days, we treat our dogs like they are pretty much another member of our families. It’s only natural that we would want to extend the lifespan of our loyal companions for as long as possible. Unfortunately, studies show that the average lifespan of dogs has been steadily decreasing over the years.
In 2004, a study from the UK Kennel Association found that dogs were living on average to be about 11.3 years old. Just ten years after that study initially took place, the average lifespan of dogs had decreased by a full year to about 10 years old. Experts state that dogs age about 7 times faster than humans, which is a tough fact for all dog owners to accept. However, you don’t have to let your dog become part of these alarming statistics.
Increasing the lifespan of our furry friends might be as simple as changing a few small variables in their everyday lives. In fact, we already have the blueprint, thanks to a fascinating Ted Talk from Rodney Habib, the founder of the Planet Paws.
After his dog was also diagnosed with cancer, Rodney decided to dive deep into finding ways to increase the lifespans of our pets. Rodney’s findings were truly intriguing and can be applied to your pets to help them live a longer and higher quality life.
We can’t control it all
Unfortunately, we cannot control all aspects of life (because we saw what that did to Thanos), so we have to make peace with the factors that are out of our hands.
The breed of your dog certainly makes a big impact, with scientists even discovering that smaller breed dogs tend to live longer than large dogs. These scientists even concluded that every additional 4.4 lbs of body mass reduce a dog’s life expectancy by one month. This variable is important to think about, but choosing your dog often comes down to an emotional preference. That’s why if you are looking to extend the life of your dog, you should focus on other factors besides breed.
It starts with their bowl
It doesn’t take a PhD degree and 12 years of research to tell you what you put in your body affects your quality of life. If I live off of heavily processed fast food like Super Size Me for my whole life, I can expect a short one. Similarly, what we feed our dog also has a large impact on their everyday life and on how long they will live.
One thing is for sure, if your dog is overweight, their lifespan will be affected. Just like any living organism, obesity and added weight put your dog at risk for tons of adverse health effects. Research from the University of Liverpool found that overweight dogs are more likely to have shorter lifespans than normal weight dogs. That means feeding your dogs the right stuff can directly affect their quality of life and their overall lifespan. Pet obesity is a real issue, and a lot of it has to do with owners giving their dogs food that is high in calories and carbohydrate levels.
Dogs need digestible ingredients in their diets. Ingredients like by-product meals and meat and bone meal just simply cannot replace quality, whole meats like chicken, lamb, and turkey. Same goes for carbohydrates. Dogs benefit from the right types of carbohydrates but some can be very dangerous. Starches like corn starch and potato starch are high in sugar and can lead to diabetes. High fibre carbohydrates like brown rice, peas and lentils are much better as they help to lower blood sugar.
Including fresh fruits and veggies in your dog's food is also beneficial. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre that they cannot get from other ingredients.
Lastly, antioxidants have been scientifically proven to improve how long you live. To put it simply, antioxidants help to reduce the wear and tear on your body. Some excellent sources of antioxidants are ingredients like fish oil, flax seeds, turmeric and blueberries (among other fruits and veggies).
The #1 Change to Make That Will Extend Your Dog’s Lifespan
Imagine what your own health would be like if you primarily ate processed foods for your entire life. Now take that same thought and apply it to your dogs. It’s evident the #1 change you can make that will extend your dog’s lifespan is switching up their diet.
Feeding your dogs a fresh food diet can help them live a better quality life and for a longer period of time. A study from Purdue University found that you can reduce the risk of your dog developing cancer by 90% just by adding leafy greens to your dog’s diet three times a week.
It’s not rocket science (even though Big Kibble would like us to think it is). Fresh food provides your furry friends with more nutrition content in the most effective form. As we learned in the TEDx video: How to Build the Forever Dog, the world’s oldest dog, Molly, lived to age 30 in part due to a healthy diet and regular exercise. If you want to maximize your time with your beloved pets, incorporating real fresh foods into their diet is a must. Home cooked diets might seem like a little bit more work for you, but your dogs will benefit immensely from such a simple effort and you will be able to enjoy their companionship for many more years to come. Happy ingredients equals happy pets.