Have you ever wondered how long your dog will live? It’s a question many pet owners ask.
While there’s no way to know exactly how long any single dog will live … you can look at factors like average lifespan of breeds and predisposition to disease.
More importantly, you can look at the different things you can do to extend your dog’s time with you.
And that’s what I want to talk about today … how to help your dog live a happier, healthier and hopefully longer life.
But first … let’s look at how the breed of your dog factors in.
Understanding Breed Risks
The average lifespan of dogs is 10 to 13 years.
- Labrador Retriever … 12.3 years
- German Shepherds … 9.5 years
- Golden Retriever … 12.3 years
- French bulldog … 9.0 years
- Bulldog … 6.3 years
- Standard Poodle … 12.0 years
- Beagle … 12.7 years
- Rottweiler … 8.9 years
- German Shorthaired Pointer … 12.0 years
- Welsh Corgi (Pembroke) … 12.2 years
As a general rule of thumb (with some exceptions) … smaller dogs live longer than bigger dogs.
Dogs under 19 pounds ………. 11.3 years
Dogs 20 – 90 pounds ……..……. 10.8 years
Dogs over 90 pounds …………..…. 8 years
Just look at 5 of the longest and shortest living breeds from one study that looked at the longevity of over 150 dog breeds …
Longest Living Breeds
- Welsh Corgi (Cardigan) … 16.5 years
- Lakeland Terrier … 15.5 years
- Irish Terrier … 14.8 years
- Toy Poodle … 14.6 years
- Canaan Dog … 14.6 years
Shortest Living Breeds
- Neapolitan Mastiff … 2.3 years
- Dogue de Bordeaux … 3.8 years
- Great Dane … 6.5 years
- Bloodhound … 6.8 years
- Mastiff … 6.8 years
Evolutionary biologist Mark Elgar speaks to this …
“… a larger dog, because of its size, may put more strain on its physiological processes, meaning they tend to wear out more quickly.”
When looking at your dog’s breed … you also want to consider the diseases certain breeds are predisposed to.
Beagles are prone to epilepsy. Labrador Retrievers have a higher risk of obesity. Pugs tend to have eye problems. And the list goes on.
But what’s more important than all of this is … how you care for your dog.
Because that’s one factor that’s in your control. And it can help extend the life of your four legged bestie.
How To Help Extend Your Dog’s Life
Knowing the breed of your dog and what he’s predisposed to is a good first step to helping your dog live longer.
It can help you adjust his lifestyle and care to decrease the likelihood of the disease … or at the very least help him enjoy a better life with it.
There are many reasons that your dog may move on sooner than you would ever want him to. And while I don’t have time to cover all of them today, I do want to talk about the two leading causes of death … and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Aging In Dogs
There’s one factor that you have a greater amount of control over than the others. And that is inflammaging … chronic low-grade inflammation.
Acute inflammation is your dog’s natural response to injury and illness. It allows immune cells to move in and help him heal.
But when this response is prolonged and exaggerated, it becomes chronic inflammation. And that’s a problem for your dog.
Chronic inflammation is linked to …
And while you can’t see inflammaging and vets don’t test for it … there are signs that your dog is experiencing it.
The bad news is that … the presence of these diseases means that inflammaging is already taking over.
The good news?
You can slow it down.
Limit Foods That Increase Inflammation
There are certain diets that can increase inflammaging in your dog.
Omega-6 – Your dog needs a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The problem is that today’s diets usually have an excess of omega-6 fats, which are pro-inflammatory.
Chicken and pork, as well as soy and corn meals in kibble, are high in omega-6.
High Glycemic Load – Starchy foods have a high glycemic load, which leads to insulin spikes. And this quick release of insulin can trigger inflammation.
Commercial dog foods usually contain 30 to 60% starch.
Lack of Antioxidants – Antioxidants scavenge free radicals, which are a source of inflammation. Without antioxidants in your dog’s diet, the free radicals will run rampant and cause oxidative stress.
While most commercial diets contain antioxidants, they’re only there to stop kibble from going bad. They don’t help prevent premature aging.
Add More Foods That Decrease Inflammation
While some diets can cause inflammation, others can help prevent it.
Omega-3 – I mentioned that omega-6s are pro-inflammatory. Omega-3s are the opposite … they help prevent inflammation. They also help lengthen telomeres that protect your dog’s chromosomes from unraveling.
Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts – Your dog has a signaling pathway known as the Nrf2 pathway. One of its primary jobs is decreasing chronic inflammation.
Broccoli and broccoli sprouts are rich in sulforaphane, which activates these pathways. They’re also full of antioxidants and help detoxify the liver. All this serves to reduce inflammation.
It also reduces the Nf-kB pathways, which reduces tumor growth and metastasis … as well as chronic inflammation.
Berries are rich in polyphenols.
Probiotics – Probiotics are good bacteria that help balance and diversify your dog’s microbiome by colonizing in the gut. Probiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation and regulate the immune response.
If you want to add probiotics to your dog’s diet, look for one with at least 10 strains and 30 billion CFU. Alternatively, you can use a soil based probiotic with 1 or 2 strains. Soil based probiotics are less fragile so you need less than 1 billion CFU in comparison.
Don’t feed probiotics without including prebiotics as well.
Prebiotics – These indigestible fibers feed the good bacteria in your dog’s gut to keep them active.
2. Prevent Cancer
Cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in dogs … with some breeds being more prone to the disease …
- Great Danes
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Cocker Spaniels
When it comes to humans, it’s estimated that 30 to 40% of cancers can be prevented by making the right lifestyle and diet choices.
Dogs are no different.
If you take the time to consider the foods you feed your dog, you could reduce his risk of cancer.
Add Foods That Prevent Cancer
Phytochemicals – These organic compounds are found in plants. They help prevent cells from developing into malignant cancer growths.
Kale, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are good sources of phytochemicals. So are blueberries and raspberries.
Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D3 is known for its ability to affect mood and is often prescribed for Seasonal Affective Disorder but … it has also been shown to improve immune function and prevent cancer. Vitamin D3 rich foods include sardines and eggs.
Chlorophyll – This green pigment is also found in plants and can protect against cancer.
Lycopene – Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that is found in pink and red vegetables. Like other carotenoids, it helps with cancer prevention.
Carrots, tomatoes, and watermelon contain lycopene.
Flavonoids – Flavonoids are a class of plant pigments that have anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antioxidative properties.
They are found in colorful plants – the more colorful the better. Berries are a good source of flavonoids.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms are full of beneficial compounds that help your dog stay healthy … and they have cancer-fighting properties. But be sure to cook the mushrooms before you feed them to your dog or try a mushroom supplement.
Caution: If you do choose a supplement, look for one that uses the whole mushroom and not just the mycelium. Many mushroom supplements are just mycelium. Mycelium is higher in starch and lower in the beta-glucans that make medicinal mushrooms so healthy!
RELATED: A Holistic Approach To Dog Tumors …
Steer Clear Of Kibble
There are dangerous ingredients in commercial foods that not only stress your dog’s immune system but can cause cancer directly.
Aflatoxins – This is a type of cancer-causing mold. It contaminates grains like corn, wheat and rice that are common ingredients in dog foods.
Heterocyclic Amines – This is another cancer-causing substance found in commercial pet food. It’s a byproduct of cooking proteins at high temperatures.
Acrylamides – Similar to heterocyclic amines, acrylamides are the result of heating food … but in this case vegetables and grains. They’re also cancer-causing.
Glyphosate – This common weed killer causes cancer, heart disease and brain disorders. It’s found in kibbles that contain soy, beets, wheat, alfalfa and corn.
Other Ways To Prevent Cancer In Dogs
Lawn chemicals – Chemical sprays used in gardens and on lawns are toxic and linked to cancer in dogs. Avoid the use of these chemicals at home and keep your dog off grass if you don’t know whether it was sprayed.
Avoid Early Spay and Neuter – Research shows that dogs who are spayed and neutered before one year old have an increased risk of cancer.
Eliminate or Minimize Vaccination – Vaccines cause cancer in dogs. If you must vaccinate, limit it to the vaccines you need. And remember … it only takes one core vaccine to protect your dog. If he has responded to the vaccine … you don’t have to revaccinate. A titer test run 3 weeks after the initial vaccination will determine whether he responded.
Take these steps and you can slow your dog’s aging and help prevent cancer.
The fountain of youth may be a fantasy … but living a long and healthy life is within reach for your dog.