How We Can Help Our Pets Live Longer

 By Claudia Loomis 

Having our dogs with us longer is everyone’s wish Even though we understand that the quality of our dogs life may be even more important than the length of their life. The good news is that we can have both. Our pets can thrive and lead healthy lives well into their golden years. We can take an active role to help them live better and longer! At any age or stage, we can put our dogs on a path to thriving well after their muzzles have turned gray.   

THEY ARE WHAT THEY EAT: Hippocrates was right, food is medicine. To encourage healthy aging, our dogs must eat right. What is right for them is quite different from what is right for humans. Humans are omnivores. But our dogs are carnivores. Dogs have evolved to tolerate grains, however their anatomy and physiology scream wolf. From their head to their gut, they are biologically designed to eat meat. As such, we need to feed them as nature intended, with a minimally processed diet high in meat-based protein and low in carbohydrates. 

The prevailing belief is that older dogs are less active and have less need for protein. This is evidenced by many senior or less active dog formulas are lower in fat and protein and contain more carbohydrates. In fact, the older a dog gets, the more important high-quality meat-based protein in their diet becomes and feeding a high protein diet is best. Also, introducing fresh, frozen, and raw ingredients that have anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in antioxidants will boost the nutritional value of their meals. Great fresh options with longevity benefits include: 

Bone Broth: This addition to your pets' bowl is protein packed and nutrient dense. Bone broth contains anti-inflammatory amino acids, vitamins, and minerals including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. The collagen in bone broth helps support gut health and joint health. Plus, it is a super way to help keep your pets well hydrated.  

Blueberries: Blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants that have been shown to slow the effects of aging. Blueberries also play a role in keeping the urinary tract healthy. Blueberries also contain flavonoids which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helping protect brain cells and memory function 

Carrots: contain beta-carotene, a nutrient found in orange-hued fruits and vegetables that can boost immune health, support eye health, and improve your dog’s skin and coat. Carrots also contain a lot of fiber, which is good for the digestive tract. Raw carrots are a healthy, low-calorie snack (and chewing them is great for your dog’s teeth and gums). 

Eggs: are a complete protein containing amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and nutrients. There are many benefits to including an egg or two a week in your pet's diet. They are easy to digest, and you can feed them raw, soft, or hard-boiled.  

Dark Leafy Veggies: eating dark leafy vegetables can reduce their risk of developing cancer. In addition, they are rich in phytonutrients, which give them antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, veggies like spinach and kale are good sources of fiber and natural vitamins and minerals.  

Raw Goat Milk: This super food provides many benefits to dogs of all ages. Loaded with probiotics and enzymes, goat milk supports the digestive system Goat milk helps build stronger immune systems, reduces inflammation, and provides added  

TO LOOK GOOD IS TO FEEL GOOD: Grooming plays an especially significant role in keeping pets healthy. Getting your dog on a regular grooming schedule, whether done by you at home or at a grooming salon, will go a long way to keeping them healthy. Brushing out lifeless hair and undercoat and combing out mats allows the skin to breathe and the blood to circulate to the skin. This will help eliminate common skin conditions that can weaken your pet’s immune system. Grooming will also help you to identify issues like hot spots, before they become bigger problems.  

Regular nail trims are also important. When your pet’s nails are too long it affects how their paws are positioned when they walk and can lead to joint issues. A dog's nails should be trimmed at a minimum every two weeks. This can be a challenging task for some pet parents. Fortunately, many groomers will provide nail trims as a stand-alone service. 

YOU CAN TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS: Keeping our pets active and mentally engaged is a terrific way to stave off the effects of aging. Dogs are innately good learners. They are naturally inquisitive and are eager to grasp new experiences. Keep them thinking and make it fun. Introduce them to new games, engage them with interactive toys and treat puzzles. Our dogs get positive feelings from solving mental challenges. Introduce them to novel experiences, visit new locations with them, or just hide toys in the house or yard for them to find. Change up their toy bin, introducing a few new toys then rotate toys in and out of the bin. Take steps to increase mental stimulation and reduce boredom. An engaged brain is a happy brain 

LOVE IS A VERB: Love is an action word; best demonstrated by being acted out. Spend time with your dogs, engaging in activities they enjoy This will make your dog happy, and happy dogs live longer. Take long walks with them, allowing them to sniff and follow their nose where it leads, this stimulates their olfactory senses and engages their brain. Include them in family activities whenever possible. Plan a date with your dog, take a trip to a park or a pet friendly location, like the local pet store. Our dogs give us unconditional love, we can show them how much we love them in return by actively spending time with them