If you have ever cared for a pet dog, it is a sad truth that you are likely to outlive them. So it’s no wonder that people may be asking how to increase their pet’s longevity following the news that a dog in Portugal lived longer than 30 years. The Guinness World Record Holder of the title of World’s Oldest Dog, Bobi, has recently died aged 31. This is an impressive age for any dog.
While there is some debate about Bobi’s actual age, his diet and lifestyle, unsurprisingly, has attracted much attention from canine caregivers. There is a lot we don’t understand about aging but there are common factors associated with longevity for many species. These factors seem to help increase lifespans in species as varied as the microscopic worm Caenorhabditis elegans, dogs, and humans. This suggests that other species can be useful models in helping us understand our own aging process.
Diet does affect aging. For dogs, increased levels of antioxidants support energy generation in the body’s cells and aid learning and brain health in older dogs. These include vitamins C and E, and nutrients such as alpha-lipoic acid and L-cartinine. These nutrients are typically provided in fortified, prepared dog food. If you feed your dog a commercial diet, check it is labeled as “complete”. This ensures that if you feed the recommended amount, your dog will be getting all the nutrients at the right levels to meet their needs.
Physical activity is often linked to healthy aging. Walking is a simple way to support maintenance of a healthy body weight in dogs, leading to mutual health benefits. Age, size, breed, health, and other variables will affect the amount of exercise a dog needs. But almost without exception, walking and other activity is good for our dogs. It can also mean that you and your dog are happier, another key factor linked to healthy aging.
Excess body weight is associated with reduced health and lifespan in dogs and people. Regular monitoring of your dog’s body weight is a good way to maintain a healthy waistline and support longevity. It is important to know what a healthy body weight and shape looks and feels like for your own dog. With practice, you can become familiar with a healthy body shape by checking that your dog has a defined waistline when viewed from above, that you can feel their ribs, and that their abdomen tucks up when viewed from the side.
With some simple dietary and lifestyle interventions, we can make sure our shared lives with our dogs are as happy, healthy, and long as possible. Feeding your dog a suitable amount to meet their nutritional needs while maintaining a lean body weight can help reduce the chances they will develop painful and distressing conditions. While our companion dogs might not reach 31 years old like Bobi, we can certainly make mutual longevity an aim.