Five tips to help make our dogs live longer

By Mel Ritterman

How can we make our dogs live longer?

I had the privilege of chatting to a friend of mine, the amazing Vet, Dr Lisa Chimes and we were pondering this question together. For both of us, our dogs were our first babies and it’s just not fair to think that they won’t be with us forever. In actual fact, just last month, Lisa lost her beloved first baby, Nelson, after 15 years together. He had an incredible life with her and is missed so much every day by her and her family.

Cooper - Mel's Golden Retriever

So I asked Dr Lisa, if there is anything we can do to help make our dogs live longer.

She gave me a few tips so I just couldn’t resist sharing them with you guys… 

  1. Regular vet checks including bloods and urine tests: Annual vet checks are key up until 7 years of age, or up to 4 years of age for giant breeds! Then vet checks every 6 months after that with yearly blood and urine tests. Running yearly bloods and urine tests as your dog gets older is a great idea so you have a baseline for their health. Please remember that every dog is different so your vet will run through with you what you need to look out for in your dog
  2. Feed your dog an appropriate balanced diet and maintain them at a healthy body weight: Regular exercise, a balanced diet and keeping your dog at a good weight is SO important! I know that so many dog owners think that spoiling your dogs with treats and all your food scraps will make your dog happier but I promise you, you won’t be doing them any favours in the long run. Avoid table scraps and keep treats to a minimum. Ensure you feed them a diet that is suited to their life stage and lifestyle - your vet can help recommend what is best for your dog. If you do have a day of training, make sure to use healthy, nutritious treats, make sure to give them in moderation and to reduce the size of their actual meal that day to balance it all out.
  3. Know your dog and be able to recognise if something is not right: Make sure to sit down with your dog on a regular basis and give them a good rub down, feel for lumps and bumps, know their healthy body so you can recognise if something doesn’t seem right. Monitor their energy levels, appetite, thirst and toileting. Check their teeth, eyes, gums, nose as these can be indicators of something being wrong. Your vet should also do this with you yearly – make sure to get them to run through with you the indicators of an unwell dog. 
  4. Brush their teeth: Dental hygiene is often forgotten about but it is so important. Many of us, myself included, simply forget to brush our dogs’ teeth on a regular basis. Unfortunately, poor oral hygiene can lead to plaque, gingivitis, and eventually periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the mouth that has been linked to heart disease and organ damage in dogs. The good news is, it’s not hard to keep your dog’s teeth clean. Simply brush their teeth regularly, provide safe chew toys and dental treats, and have the vet check their teeth at your annual check-up.
  5. Make your dog feel loved and have a healthy mind: I know this sounds cheesy but it’s true. A loved dog who is physically and mentally stimulated will live longer than a dog that is isolated at home and bored. Dogs are social animals after all, they just want to feel loved and be with us.
Want to know a funny fact? I was Lisa's dog sitter at her wedding! I got to hang with the gorgeous pageboys, Lucas and Nelson.

Unfortunately there is no magic trick to help make our dogs live as long as humans do. But with the combination of these five tips, hopefully your dog will live a longer, happier and healthier life.

Mel Ritterman is a qualified dog trainer and mum-of-three. You can find more information about Mel on her website Cooper and Kids, or follow her on Instagram or Facebook. 

Disclaimer: Dogshare and Mel Ritterman will not be liable for anything that happens to you or your dog by following our advice and tips. If you have real concerns or worries about your dog, please seek out a professional vet or behaviourist to come and assess the situation.