A de-stressed dog is a happy dog, and perhaps with some extra years.

A de-stressed dog is a happy dog, and can perhaps add a couple of extra years.

Since most dogs sustain a cheerful  demeanor, it can be difficult to tell if there are things we can do differently to improve their lifestyle.  Once the essential requirements for a happy canine life are covered (through nutrition, exercise, play, toys, training, healthcare, and other elements of pet care), there are a few minor adjustments that can help extend even the most pampered pet’s life.

7 Ways to Extend a Dog’s Life

Brush their teeth: This key aspect of healthcare is often overlooked, yet we cannot overstate the importance of daily oral care. Just as eyes are the “window to the soul,” mouths are the window to the body, therefore whatever bacteria may be festering in the mouth will almost certainly be passed to the organs. Protect your dog from future diseases by regularly brushing his teeth. Bacterial infections in the mouth have been causally linked to canine heart disease.

Be intentional about quality time: We know a daily walk is a required part of pet parenthood, but this often becomes merely an item to check on a to-do list. Instead of going on a quick outing with your dog, be intentional about investing in quality time with him. Wrestle, pet, play, and engage with your pooch in new ways. Focus on having even 5-10 minutes of fun with your pup, as this will make him feel prioritized and connected. Like humans, dogs tend to live longer if they are emotionally healthy.

Don’t skip training: Many pet owners view dog training as optional.  If their pup is potty-trained, and has decent behavior, what is the point of practicing useless tricks?  However, pet training actually has numerous health benefits that could help extend a dog’s life. A well-trained dog will not go into rooms he is not allowed (where their might be poisonous items, or dangerous objects that could harm him), and will not bolt out the front door by a busy street, if it is ever left open.  Pups who have never been disciplined to stay in certain places and avoid others, often unknowingly put their own lives at risk.

Get regular physical exams: While it is important to get your dog the medication and vaccinations he needs whenever health issues arise, another element to improving a dog’s chances for a long life are getting regular physicals. One of the best ways to fight disease is to catch it in the developing stages. Going in for regular exams will alert the vet if anything is amiss long before the ailments have a chance to do any severe damage.

De-stress your dog:  Stress and anxiety are known to be deeply damaging both to humans and dogs. A great way to sustain a pet’s life is to de-stress their existence any way possible. This might look like adding certain aspects to your life and removing others. Remove stress triggers like loud noises,  or too many people being over at once, or leaving your dog with strangers, or going away on long trips. Adding de-stressers might include regularly playing calming music or nature sounds to your dog, giving your pup massages, spraying the house with aromatherapy, or giving your dog a calming collar, or a dose of pet pheromones. Even soothing him with a doggy facial might help do the trick!

Stop feeding him unhealthy dog treats:  Diseases caused from obesity are some of the most common canine killers. Increases the likelihood of a long life by limited doggy treats, or fattening snacks, and sticking to lean grilled chicken when you want to incentivize good behavior.

Avoid any excuses:  This applies to many aspects of pet care.  If it is rainy, snowy, or too hot outside, some pet parents will skip the exercise. Inconvenience discourages pet parents from going to the veterinarian, quality dog food can be expensive, and busy schedules make it a challenge to find time for your dog. If you want your pet to have a long, healthy life, you must stop making excuses. If the weather is poor, get a dog treadmill so your pup can get his walk in, rain or shine. Find a vet that is closer to you if necessary, and if you want to avoid frequently health problems, pony up the extra bit to get your dog the good nutrition he needs. Making excuses will only shorten your dog’s life and rob you of happy future years.