11 Ways You’re Shortening Your Dog’s Life
As pet parents, we like to think that we are providing a healthy, happy life for our dogs. We feed them top quality food, give them lots of love, and toss the ball around the backyard whenever we have the time. But there is a lot more that goes into raising a healthy pup. And sometimes, our busy lifestyles cause us to overlook some simple measures that could help to extend the lifespan of our canines.
1. Letting your dog gain too much weight
Letting your dog get too heavy can not only reduce his life span but also his quality of life. People do not realize that dogs do not process or break down food like we do.
2. Neglecting canine dental care
Periodontal disease (gum disease), is a common problem in dogs. As the American Humane Society reports, veterinarians estimate that 85 percent of dogs over five years of age suffer from the condition, which develops after food and bacteria collect along the gum line and form plaque in a dog’s mouth. A build-up of oral bacteria can ultimately lead to all sorts of health problems for your pet, including heart valve problems and infections within the kidneys.
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3. Skipping annual check ups
While it may be a pain to cart your dog into the veterinarian on an annual basis, doing so may save his life. Simply getting your dog seen once or twice a year by a veterinarian can help improve life span. Even if your dog is acting normally, something could be brewing inside. And in the case of a dog’s heath, time is of the essence. In some cases, by the time symptoms appear, there isn’t much we can do. But if we get treatment started early, that can help to improve a dog’s quality and quantity of life.
Read also: How to provide the right food for your pet
4. Not providing daily exercise
Just because your pet played hard at the dog park on Monday doesn’t mean that you can forgo giving him any exercise until Thursday. Exercise not only helps to keep the weight off, it also provides mental stimulation for your pup. Keeping up your pet’s fitness routine gives him a healthy way to expel energy.
5. Exposing your dog to second-hand smoke
Just like humans, canine lungs are not equipped to handle smoke being blown at them all day. Second-hand smoke can be extremely detrimental to pets, causing all sorts of ailments, such as an increased cancer risk and harmful respiratory issues.
6. Forgetting about heartworm and flea and tick prevention
These measures are just as important as remembering to keep up with your dog’s vaccinations. Flea, heartworm, and tick control is critical. These tiny critters spread diseases, some of which are life threatening. Fortunately there are many prevention options available from your veterinarian—from collars and topical spot-ons to oral medications.
Read also: 9 ways to enrich your dog’s life
7. Pushing certain breeds too hard
Small and toy dog breeds, as well as brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, have very different exercise requirements than other types of dogs. For instance, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, and Boxer types should not be exercised in extreme heat, as it can be life threatening to them.
8. Feeding your dog table scraps
In addition to adding extra (and unnecessary!) calories to your dog’s diet, pet parents risk inducing pancreatitis by feeding their dog fatty table scraps. Many foods that humans consume are extremely high in fats and sugars compared to what our pets should be exposed to. In addition, certain human foods—including garlic and chocolate—can be toxic to pets if consumed.
9. Letting your dog outside unsupervised
Letting your dog roam free without you watching opens the door for a whole world of possible tragedies. Cars, coyotes or other predators, unscrupulous people—they’re all out there. Don’t let your dogs roam the streets unattended, even if they are tagged and microchipped.
Read also: How to identify the best food for your dog
10. Not socializing your dog
Dogs who fail to get socialized don’t get the same “bite” out of life as their happy, socialized counterparts. They often develop anxiety and fear-related issues, even dermatologic issues, and they don’t enjoy walks in the same way. Similarly a dog that has no human interaction, no fun, no playtime, can get depressed.
11. Not spaying or neutering
Experts agree that forgoing spaying and neutering can be dangerous to your dog’s health. Spaying and neutering is still the best way to guarantee reducing the risk of several cancers, let alone the behavioral issues you can see with intact dogs.
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