Is the average dog life expectancy increasing? The good new is yes! Find out why and read how to help your dog live longer, healthier and more comfortably.
No time speeds by faster than dog years. It’s the only true drawback of pet parenthood. Most of us outlive our furry companions and miss them so. But there’s good news to share here. Veterinarians say that many dogs and cats are living well into their teens.
Expect to See Life Spans Increase
In fact, Martha Smith, director of veterinary services at Boston’s Animal Rescue League told msnbc.com, “Just as the average life expectancy for people keeps reaching closer to the century mark, we’ll continue to see the same parallels in our pet population.” This comes as a huge relief to the Woof Reporters as we search for newer, better ways to keep our pets thriving well into their geriatric years. Here’s what we learned at msnbc.com.
Just like in humans, a dog’s chance to live to old age hinges on a combination of factors, many of which are predetermined. For example, smaller to medium-size breed dogs tend to live longer than larger breeds. Hence, the toy breeds tend to live longer than all the other breeds together. Additionally, genetic variations also play a significant role in longevity. Scientists believe that life expectancy is wired into the genetic code. When good genes are met with proper nutrition some dogs are just pre-programmed to outlive their peers. It’s so unfair!
Calculating a Dog’s Age
Another interesting concept mentioned in the article is that many vets calculate a dog’s age by figuring that a one-year-old dog is equivalent to a 12-year-old person and a two-year-old dog is equivalent to a 24-year-old person, and for every year after that, you add four years. “That formula is probably the most accurate because it does take into account the maturation that happens in the beginning of the dog’s life and then the slowing of the aging in subsequent years,” Smith says.
Because there is such a variance in aging and life expectancy for dog breeds, this formula makes more sense than the commonly used calculation of multiplying a dog’s age by seven to get their age in human years.
Fortunately, not all variables are out of a pet parent’s control.
Here are “10 Tips for Happy Golden Pet Years” from the ASPCA to help your dog live longer, healthier and more comfortably.
- Keep your dog or cat at an average weight. You should be able to feel, but not see their ribs.
- There’s no such thing as puppy fat. Keep puppies slim not chubby.
- Well-trained dogs should learn hand signals for sit, down and come at an early age. This way, if hearing loss happens later, your dog will still be able to follow direction.
- Keep your pet active with scheduled exercise and playtime to keep muscles strong to help manage mobility and pain around arthritic joints.
- Schedule regular veterinary visits for your oldster so you can catch and treat problems before they become serious.
- Protect the teeth and gums with regular brushing and veterinary cleanings to prevent blood-borne infections that can negatively affect internal organs such as the heart and kidneys.
- Don’t ignore lumps and bumps in older pets or decide to “just watch it.” Cancer is often highly treatable, even in older animals, but only if it’s discovered early.
- If your pet’s vision is impaired, he can still get around using sense of smell.
- Ask your veterinarian about medication to treat your dog’s arthritis pain.
- Give your pet lots of love and attention.
So there we have it. Pets are living longer for a reason, right? Let’s give some credit where it’s due. Your strong bond with your dog, plus excellent vet care, nutrition, and responsible ownership add up. And what you get is well worth the effort – more time together with your best friend.
For more expert insights on why our pets are living longer and how to help them do so, check out this interesting article from nbcnews.com.
See our past tip “Dog Years Debunked” for the truth about dog years.
Thank you to Dale, Buzz and Stringer for the tip.