How to Help Your Dog Live Longer
People usually adore their dogs, and it can be difficult for them to think about their pup’s inevitable demise. However, there are some ways you can help your dog achieve its optimal level of health, so it will live as long as possible. You may have heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and this has never been truer than when it comes to caring for your pup. Taking proper health and safety measures, grooming your dog regularly, and making the most of the time you have with your pup are all great ways to improve your pet’s chances for a longer lifespan.
Keeping Your Dog Healthy
Visit the veterinarian at least once a year.Dogs and all pets need professional healthcare to maintain their optimal level of health. Take your pup to the vet once or twice a year for checkups and vaccinations. This gives your vet an opportunity to check for signs of common health concerns, answer health or nutrition questions you may have, and offer recommendations for improving your dog’s health.
Recognize signs of potential problems that should be examined by your vet.Common indicators include bad breath or drooling; changes in appetite, activity levels, or sleep patterns; breathing troubles or congestion; digestive issues; and others. Also talk to your vet about common illnesses and symptoms for your dog’s breed.
Put together a pet first aid kit.This should include Neosporin, latex gloves, cotton balls, peroxide or rubbing alcohol, gauze, and a list of phone numbers of local veterinary and emergency clinics you can call. This ensures you’re prepared to help your pup if it’s injured or sick. Always let your vet know if your pup is hurt or unwell. You may think the concern is no big deal, but the smallest issues can develop into serious canine health concerns.
- Keep a dog first aid guidebook handy, or bookmark a website such as .
Spay or neuter your dog.Unless you plan to breed your pet intentionally, you should consider sterilization for their safety and to control the canine population. Spaying and neutering at a young age will not dramatically impact your pet’s health, and once they’re healed, they will not experience any of the common hormonal fluctuations and stressful bodily changes that accompany canine reproduction. Removing this bodily stress allows them to remain healthier longer.
- Some experts believe spaying or neutering reduces cancer risks, but there are also studies that indicate the opposite. It may be that “fixed” dogs live longer and therefore have greater odds of eventually developing cancer.
Feed your dog healthy meals.You can purchase nutritionally complete dog foods that contain appropriate amounts of protein, fat, and vitamins based on your dog’s breed, size, and age. Talk to your vet about what foods are available to promote your dog’s health, and always read your pet food ingredients to ensure real, whole foods are listed rather than unrecognizable, chemical additives. You may also want to consider preparing meals for your dog at home. Again, the best place to start is with a visit to your vet for recommendations.
- Always have fresh water available to your dog to ensure they are hydrated.
- Don’t give too many treats. They are often high in sugar, and over time, too many treats will lead to weight gain. A number of canine health concerns such as hip dysplasia and diabetes are exacerbated by excess weight.
Include nutritional supplements with meals.There are a number of products made specifically for dogs, and you can also use those intended for human consumption in some cases. Talk to a vet before giving your pup any vitamins, minerals, or other supplemental health products. These supplements are typically available in liquid, chews, and pills.
- Include glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs with joint trouble.
- Provide fiber supplements for pets who have digestive concerns.
- Use prebiotics to improve your dog’s digestive system and immune health.
- Omega fatty acids improve joint health, promote memory, and provide necessary calories to keep your dog active.
Provide your pup with their own space.Dogs feel safest when they are enclosed, so giving them a dog house or crate that is comfortable and includes toys and treats that they like makes them feel secure. You can also give your dog their own bed. While it’s not enclosed, having a place of their own where they feel comfortable is a great way to keep your dog happy.
- Crates or dog houses should not be used just for transportation or as a punishment.
- Make sure crates and beds provide adequate padding to protect your dog from putting too much pressure or strain on joints.
Give your dog regular exercise.It's important to maintain your pup's healthy weight, muscles, and longevity. The stronger your pup is, the easier their movement will be, and the longer they'll live. Your dog doesn't need to do a special canine yoga class to stay in shape. A daily walk or a game of fetch is just as effective. However, Doga (dog yoga) can be fun too!
- Keeping larger dogs moving is essential to prevent common concerns like dysplasia in these big breeds.
- If weight is a concern, ask your vet about using weighted backpacks to assist your dog in losing extra pounds, or to make the most out of shorter walks.
Keeping Your Dog Safe
Tag or microchip your dog.Whether it is required where you live or not, take the time to attach or inject identifying information so that your dog can be returned to you if lost. A tag should be made of a durable material, attached securely to a sturdy collar, and include the dog’s name and your name and contact information. Microchips are implanted under the dog’s skin and can be scanned to provide identifying information; have your veterinarian do the implantation.
Keep your dog on a leash or behind a fence when outside.Dogs who are allowed to roam free may run into traffic, encounter a wild animal or aggressive dog, or simply run away. If possible, start leash-training your dog as a puppy, and only let it loose if you are in an enclosed yard or dog park. Install home fencing that cannot be easily knocked over, dug under, or jumped over; electric (or “invisible”) fencing is another option, with proper training.
Protect your dog from extreme weather conditions.If it is too hot or cold for you to be comfortable outdoors, you should limit the amount of time your pup spends out there as well. In hot weather, make sure your dog has constant access to shade and fresh water. When it’s cold outside, make sure to provide a warm shelter and protective clothing and footwear.
Watch out for aggressive dogs and fighting.Dogs can be seriously or even fatally injured during a fight. Reduce your own dog’s aggression through desensitization training, and use a leash — and, if necessary, a muzzle — when walking your dog. Learn to recognize signs of aggression in other dogs, and try to avoid them whenever possible. If a fight does occur, try not to intervene directly, but rather distract the combatants. Treat any injuries immediately, and see your vet if needed.
Grooming Your Pet
Detangle pet fur.If your pet has long or thick fur, check daily for any debris stuck in the coat, tangles, or mats and remove these carefully. If your pet has shorter hair, you’re likely to see these items and be able to easily pluck them from the coat. Take a few minutes to run your hands through your dog's coat from head to tail. You're looking for burs, matted hair, sticks or debris, bugs and ticks, or any other foreign item your dog's coat has acquired.
Brush your dog.You should do this for dogs of any coat length at least once each week. While this may not seem like a significant way to improve your dog’s health and longevity, foreign debris caught in the fur can lead to a number of health concerns. For instance, an irritating substance in the fur like a bur can rub against the skin, causing rashes or sores that may lead to more serious issues, infections, or skin conditions.
- Use a slicker brush that has numerous, close together bristles to detangle long dog hair. These bristles are able to slip between hairs, detangling without pulling.
- Use detangling solution or mineral oil to soften stubborn tangles.
Bathe your dog regularly.Cleaning dogs about once a month or every other month will help you keep their fur and skin clean and free of irritants. Dogs are susceptible to illness that can occur due to the presence of bugs, mites, ticks, and other irritants that access your pup through their skin. Bathing helps to prevent these issues, and gives you the opportunity to check your pup’s fur and skin for potential issues.
Keep nails trimmed.When they’re too long, nails may get stuck, chip, or break. This can be extremely painful for your pup. There’s also a large vein in pet nails called the quick, and when this vein is accessed, the result could be heavy bleeding, which can be very dangerous for your dog.
- To trim the nails, use baby nail clippers or clippers that are made for animals. If your pup has white nails, you’ll be able to see the quick. It is the dark pink part of the nail. If your dog has darker nails, you will need to remove a small sliver of nail at a time.
- After each snip, look at the newly revealed part of the nail checking for a gray-colored area. This is the quick. Stop clipping when you can see the quick.
- Apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding if you nick the quick.
Care for your dog's teeth and gums.Brushing your dog's teeth is very important. Many dog breeds suffer from oral health issues just like humans. Taking a few minutes a day or at least once a week to remove plaque is an important way to avoid these health risks. Simply apply pet toothpaste to a dog toothbrush. Then, lift your dog's lip to reveal the teeth. Carefully brush the outside and inside of each tooth.
- Purchase toothpaste that is made for pets. Rather than mint, these pastes are typically flavored like foods your pet enjoys. Do not use human toothpaste, as it may be harmful to your dog.
- Allow your pet to get used to the toothbrush and toothpaste. Let them smell or taste the paste. Start by simply brushing one or two teeth, and seeing how your pup reacts.
- Start brushing when your dog is young, so they're used to the activity when they reach adult maturity.
Bonding with Your Pup
Spend time with your pup.Go for daily walks and let the dog meet and greet with other dogs and people. You can even take your dog to new places like the beach, the park, or maybe even a pet spa for a special treat. There’s no need to plan a special day though, just spend some time petting your dog, playing fetch or tug of war, or even just taking a nap with your pup. The most important thing is to give your pup plenty of love and attention that will relieve stress and make your dog happier, which can improve quality of life.
Train your dog.Start early, and focus training on making sure your pup is safe and free from stress. For instance, train your dog to walk on a leash. This will prevent them from running away, which could lead to injury caused by cars or other dogs. You should also house train your pet. It’s important to your health and your dog’s that waste be excreted outside, so train your dog to use a dog door, ring bells to alert you they need to go outside, or use any other house training system that works for your unique needs.
Take your dog on trips.Most dogs love riding in the car, so bring them along next time you run an errand. You can also plan a more extensive trip with your pup. For instance, you can take your dog camping or hiking. These types of outings increase your dog’s overall happiness, and camping and hiking may even give your pet some extra exercise.
- Prioritize safety and comfort in the car. Practice with short trips first, and tire your dog out beforehand; provide familiar comforts like blankets and toys; plan lots of breaks; and use either a familiar crate, a dog guard, or a seat restraint for safety.
Keep your pup busy while you're away.If you are out of the house for more than a few hours at a time, you'll need to give your dog something to do, and keep them in an area where they are safe. Bored dogs can become destructive, so make sure your pup has plenty of toys to play with. Consider puzzle toys that challenge your dog to get treats out or untangle them to keep your pet busy. You can also hide specials treats, toys or food around the home. Puppy proof a specific area for your pet where they will be unlikely to injure themselves or damage your belongings. Remove access to anything fragile, that your dog may rip up, or that may be harmful like sharp objects.
- Always allow your pet access to water.
- If your dog does not have a pet door or other access to the outdoors, make sure to have someone walk them regularly.
- Some puppy parents keep their pets in crates while they're at work. As long as your dog has been properly trained and is comfortable, this may be a valid solution.
QuestionIs my dog going to die?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEverything dies eventually. It all depends on what symptoms your dog is showing. Certain life-threatening conditions such as osteosarcoma (cancer of the bone) or bloating (the twisting of the stomach between its two attachments at the esophagus and the small intestine) can lead to euthanasia or natural death, though in such situations euthanasia is recommended because it decreases the time the animal has to suffer. Conditions such as a heart murmur (faulty heart valves that don't close all the way, allowing blood to flow backwards through the heart) can be a major risk when the animal needs surgery. Several conditions can be treated with surgery, but check with your veterinarian.Thanks!
- Please take caution when choosing NOT to spay/neuter your dog. Monitor them and keep them away form other unsprayed/neutered dogs to avoid unwanted litters of puppies.
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