We all want the best for our fur-babies and would love nothing more than for them to live forever. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible; but you can give them the best chance to live a long and happy life beside you.
Our fur babies are completely dependent on us to help keep them in the best shape possible. As pet owners, we are responsible for making sure they have everything they need. The typical life expectancy for a dog is around 10-13 years, with some breeds living longer than others. As a chihuahua owner, I know they typically live up to 20 years. But larger breeds typically have a shorter life expectancy. But, there are exceptions to everything, and you can ensure your dog lives as long as possible by taking care to do the following 7 things.
1. Watch their weight.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) explains that our dog’s weight is based on a combination of diet and exercise. Keeping them at a healthy weight is important for their bone and joint health and also gives them a better overall quality of life. If you provide too many snacks or an overflowing food bowl, their weight could become a problem.
2. Keep their mouth, teeth, and gums healthy.
Frequently check your dog’s mouth, while assuring them with plenty of “Good boy” or “Good girl” phrases. Puppies should have 23 teeth, and adults should have around 42, according to the AKC. Check their gums and breath, and make sure there isn’t too much plaque built up. You can brush plaque away, or you can take them to the vet to get their teeth cleaned.
3. Ensure they get enough physical activity.
Just like humans, dogs need plenty of exercises. And if you want to kill two birds with one stone (so to speak) you can walk with your dog, so you can both benefit from exercise. 30 minutes should be enough for dogs that are older or that have low energy, while two hours is necessary for high-energy breeds. Letting them outside into a fenced yard, or giving them a playmate helps. But exercise is necessary because it promotes metabolic health, gives them mental stimulation, and helps prevent obesity and heart disease.
4. Keep their mind active.
Dogs don’t just physically age, they also decline mentally. Help to keep their mind active by teaching them new tricks, bantering with them, and playing with them. I like to take treats and place them under cups to see if they can ‘sniff’ them out. Once they do, I give them the treat and a snuggle.
5. Check their ears.
Dogs can get ear mites and ear infections, so be sure to check their ears frequently. Healthy ears should be pink and clean. Yellow and brownish wax is normal- but a large amount of wax is not. If you notice any clusters of black or dark brown wax or debris, they could have mites or a serious infection.
6. Know when to call the vet.
The AKC shows the following signs/ symptoms as causes for a vet visit. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, contact your dog’s vet immediately.
Vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination for more than twelve hours.
Loss of balance, staggering, falling.
Constipation or straining to urinate.
Runny eyes or nose.
Persistent scratching at eyes or ears.
Thick discharge from eyes, ears, nose, or sores.
Coughing or sneezing.
Difficulty breathing, prolonged panting.
Whining for no apparent reason.
Loss of appetite for 24 hours or more.
A dramatic increase in appetite for 24 hours or more.
Excessive sleeping or unusual lack of activity.
Limping, holding, or protecting part of the body.
Excessive drinking of water.
When the dog’s gums are white.
7. Make sure to feed your dog a healthy and balanced diet.
Dogs need a balanced diet, just as we do. Research the food you give them to make sure it has everything they need and to make sure it’s coming from a company with integrity. Or you can even make your dog food. Be sure to avoid chocolate and other foods that are toxic to your pet. Also, be aware that your dog’s dietary needs will change as they get older, so be careful to keep up with their changing needs.