If you are reading this right now, I am certain that you’ve already got the most important thing going for your dog. That is Love! Dogs thrive the most when they are loved, so that is always ground zero. The tips listed below are simple suggestions that people can easily implement, that have proven to be life extending. All of my tips regarding food come directly from Rodney Habib. Rodney has dedicated his life to studying canine longevity. He is the leading nutrition expert on the planet right now, and has traveled the world collecting evidence from scientists, veterinarians and pet parents of dogs that have lived to be in their 30’s.
5 Ways To Increase Lifespan At a Glance:
- Add something fresh
- Add something moist
- Fresh Air
- Kick the chemicals
Below is a simple description of each
# 1 Diet – Add Something Fresh
As time goes on, it is becoming more and more evident that kibble is not the best food for dogs. That being said, kibble is what most people feed, so these are tips for things that you can do today! No shopping necessary.
Rodney worked with the leading scientists in the world right now regarding canine nutrition, and found that you can increase your dog’s lifespan and reduce their risk of cancer by as much as 80% JUST by replacing 20% of their dry food with real fresh food. Some examples of simple ways to do this are:
- Ripping up some kale, spinach or any leafy green and putting it into their kibble.
- Throw in a piece of broccoli or a chopped up carrot.
The point of these vegetables has less to do with nutrients and more to do with slowing down the digestive track. To gain nutritional benefits, it is true that they need to be puréed. If you have time, this is great, however in their whole form, they work just as well by increasing fiber and lowering blood sugar. Over time, the impacts of this are incalculable!
- Add in a piece of whatever you are having for dinner either raw or cooked without seasoning. Chicken, beef or fish for example. 20% is all that they need.
- Crack a raw egg into their bowl (cooked is fine too) just be sure to include the yolk because egg whites alone can cause a biotin deficiency. This actually takes care of the next suggestion also because it adds moisture at the same time.
Here is a quick reference guide for dog safe veggies:
# 2 Dietary Moisture – Add Something Moist
The biggest problem with kibble is that it is dry. This is extremely taxing to internal organs. Most people choose dry food because of the fact that it keeps teeth cleaner. A good way to do both is by adding in some coconut oil because it works just like toothpaste!
- Add some coconut oil to their dinner. This not only eases digestion, but actually helps keep teeth even cleaner. 1 tsp to 1 tbs is all that you need per meal.
- Fish oil is another great option because it helps balance out the omega 6’s that your dog is already getting in their diet. Too much omega 6 is bad for a lot of reasons but the most obvious is that it speeds up aging and leads to inflammation. The fastest way to reduce this is by adding in omega 3. This neutralizes the impact of omega 6 and adds important dietary elements along with moisture which is crucial.
- If you don’t have the above two oils you can even add olive oil or avocado oil because these still effectively accomplish adding moisture and decrease organ stress.
- An egg here also works in this way
For more information about these oils, I have a few articles, such as: Dog Supplements: What’s really necessary? , Coconut Oil and Dog Health or Phytoplankton, Fish oil or Raw Fish? Safe Ways to Give Your Dog Omega 3
# 3 Exercise – Fresh Air
The dog that lived to 33 ran about 8 kilometers a day. I’ll be very honest right now, for me, this one is the hardest aspects of dog care. I have health issues and running around isn’t really in the cards. However what I CAN do is go outside.
- Make an effort. I’ve learned that just by being mindful of the amount of time we spend outside or how long we walk, makes me make a conscious effort to increase this. Tennis balls allow me to sit for some of the time and I know my dog is happier simply being in the sunshine.
- Dog parks can be hugely helpful because I can make human friends there that make the time pass while my dog gets to be social and run.
# 4 Probiotics
Just like with humans, the dogs who live the longest always have the most diverse gut flora. A healthy gut = A long life across the animal kingdom. There are countless options of probiotics on the market today, but to do this right now you could either
- Add in some of your probiotic supplements if you have them or
- Give them a small bowl of plain (unsweetened) kefir or yogurt
Probiotics or healthy gut flora, over time, have proven to be the number one common denominator between all of the oldest dogs they have studied.
# 5 Kick The Chemicals – Cleaning Products
If you have a dog that likes to clean your floor like mine does, it’s important to reduce their exposure to chemicals. Even walking on the floors can be harmful if they are cleaned with chemicals, especially bleach. Dogs have pores on their feet that can absorb toxins, they also tend to lick their feet. Accumulation of this kind of exposure can lead to a number of problems down the road. Neurological disorders, cancer etc. With all of the different chemical exposures dogs may have, this is an easy thing to take out of the equation. I’m a germ freak, and have looked into this extensively. In 2010 they did a study comparing bleach to vinegar in killing an array of viruses and things like e-coli. In EVERY test they did, vinegar showed itself to be 100% as effective as bleach across the board. This finally convinced me, and my current favorite cleaner is vinegar!
- Distilled white vinegar (in a pinch any vinegar will work, this one just smells the least)
- Lemon juice
- Castile soap
- Baking soda (for scrubbing and deodorizing)
They all have multiple uses but for my floor, I just mix vinegar with Castile soap and water and it does an amazing job! I have some additional tips for this here: Pet Friendly Household Cleaners
*Along with kicking the chemical cleaning products, I wanted to say something very quickly about vaccines and heart worm medication. If your dog has been properly vaccinated early on, they should not need further vaccines. A titer test can tell you weather or not they are still covered by a vaccine. More of it doesn’t do any good, so this can be a great way to eliminate extra toxins from vaccines. Furthermore, if you live in a place that has winter, you can also safely take your dog off heart worm medication during these months and give their system a break! This isn’t a quick tip, but I did want to put this information out there because I know early on I was hesitant to ask my vet. This was a mistake because these chemicals can do a lot of harm and reducing them truly is a longevity increasing step! I have some more information about titer testing here: Titer Testing and the Dangers of Over-Vaccinating
Never Stop Learning. This is probably the one thing that encompasses all of this. The best thing we can do for the animals we love is to simply be open to learning. There is some incredible information coming out today. Now more than ever, it is easy to stay up to date and current simply by following these people either on their websites or on Facebook (links below). The two biggest positive influences in the pet world right now are:
Rodney Habib and
They are very engaging and absolutely worth looking up!
Why Diet Is So Important
Studies done on life spans for dogs show that the biggest factor that separates those that live longer is what they are eating. Science has proven that raw food is the best quality of food for canine health. I am a raw feeder now, but I can tell you, I certainly did not start out that way! Like most people, I fed what my vet recommended without questioning it because they are doctors and I am not. It wasn’t until I took a moment to look into the food they were recommending that I began to question this advice. I’m not going to get too much into it but the bottom line is, most traditional veterinary schools are funded by pet food companies. These schools provide very little education when it comes to nutrition. Well meaning doctors, that love dogs, are told to protect the masses by suggesting foods that meet AAFCO guidelines. They don’t mention the detrimental effects of synthetic vitamins and denatured meat sources. Even the highest quality kibble is deficient, simply based on the process that is necessary to make it kibble. For most vets it’s all about what most people will realistically do, and that is buy kibble. Raw diets require a certain understanding of balance and if done wrong animals can get hurt. This along with not having enough education about it, is the biggest reason they do not usually recommend going this route.
However, things are changing. There are currently a number of resources available today that take the guesswork out of raw feeding. There are companies that hire food scientists to create pre-made raw options that are completely balanced and ready to serve. You can get frozen options that can be poured into a bowl just like kibble or you can save money and buy “chubs” that are the same thing, except you have to cut it yourself. This is by far, the easiest way to make the greatest impact on your dog’s longevity.
Two companies that provide this that I like very much are:
You can buy them or order them from your local independent pet shop.
To save even more time Darwin’s Pet Food offers a subscription service where they pre-portion meals for your dog specifically, and send them frozen to your door.
A wonderful documentary that explains all of this on Netflix is Pet Fooled it’s an easy watch and very well done!
For some better kibble options, if you are not ready to make the switch I have found a few here: Kibble
You certainly don’t have to change everything over night, this just isn’t realistic. What you can do is just add one thing. Even just one carrot can make a difference! Science has proven this and because I know how much every moment with my dog means to me, I wanted to try to share some of what I’ve learned with you.
Rodney has many great videos, but here is just one: