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BFFs for Life

Five ways to improve your BFFs health and longevity

There is no question, dogs are humans’ number one best friends. They are our biggest cheerleaders, never judge us, are always down for a snuggle, and provide the most fulfilling unconditional love on tap. You’d be hard-pressed to find a downside to owning these four-legged love bugs, aside from one… their short lifespan. On average a dog’s lifespan is twelve times shorter than that of humans. Some say that dogs already know the meaning of life and live it to the absolute fullest each day, and that’s why they don’t need to stay as long as humans. Depending on your dogs’ breed and genetics you are given different life expectancies.

In general, the larger the breed the shorter the life span. But what if we had it in our power to extend that expectancy? Recent studies have found some dogs happily living until the ripe old age of THIRTY! Holistic veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker’s most recent book “The Forever Dog” investigates these studies and various factors that contribute to creating these much longer life expectancies.

So what are these dogs doing differently, what do they have in common, and how can we apply it to our own dogs to help our BFFs live their best and longest lives?!

Here are five of the best-known and simplest factors that can easily be added to your life to help your pooch live a longer life!

Health starts from the inside out! The nutrition you provide your dog is easily the biggest way to impact your dogs’ overall health. This doesn’t mean that you need to go full board and completely change your pet’s diet, but the act of adding a few raw, unprocessed items to your pet’s diet can majorly boost their gut health, decrease symptoms of allergies, and reduce risks of cancer and other major diseases! Your dog is made for a completely raw diet, but many find raw or freeze-dried raw to be out of their budget and that’s ok! Feeding kibble can also be a healthy component of your dog’s overall diet, but it can also be the most UNhealthy part if your decrement isn’t used. If choosing to feed kibble, and I cannot stress this enough, READ THE INGREDIENTS!! If the first ingredient is not a protein (not a protein meal; this is the cast-off by-products of the protein) then move on. Many large name brand foods and even veterinarian sponsored foods do not contain the highest quality ingredients, it’s important to take the time to read the label looking for pure proteins and lots of natural fruits and vegetables. No matter what you choose to feed, adding raw items in addition such as blueberries, sweet potato, spinach, pomegranate, eggs, apples, broccoli, pumpkin, or bone broth significantly improves your dogs’ overall well-being! Check out Dr. Karen Becker’s website, found here https://foreverdog.com  , to find a slew of specific resources on how to build a more whole and healthier diet!

The Forever DogClarifications & Revisions: Our publisher tells us all books go to print with typos, and our book is no different. If you catch a typo, please feel free to email us, so we can correct the manuscript for future prints. We want our book to be as helpful as possible so we’ll be making all edits public so you have access to the information you need.foreverdog.com

The next most common factor in these studied long-lived dogs is free time in the sunshine! We know the benefits of getting lots of fresh air, going barefoot, and soaking up those rays for humans, and it’s no different for our four-legged friends. Having ample time to roam, sniff, roll, nap, run, and soak up all the goodness the outdoors has to offer has proven to not only reduce stress hormones in the endocrine system, but also boost endorphins and overall mood, and provide essential vitamins! Getting to spend time outdoors relaxing and exercising is a critical component of our dogs living their best lives, not only do they get pure enjoyment from the activities, it is proven to extend their life expectancy! Win-win! 

Getting your dog on a superb diet and upping their outdoor time are two of the best ways to naturally create a healthy weight in your dog, which just so happens to be the next big item in extending your dogs’ longevity! Obesity in our canine friends has become an epidemic and is the leading cause of a myriad of diseases, cancers, joint pain, and overall poor life quality. The problem is, many humans don’t know how to spot or feel out a healthy weight for their dog! Overweight dogs have sadly become the standard, so what many humans THINK the look of healthy is, is in fact, overweight. While the AKC and CKC provide a guesstimate range of breed standard weight, with so many mixed breeds and dogs outside the standards how can you tell what a healthy weight actually is for your pup? We check their body condition score! Ideally, bones such as ribs, spine, and hips should be easily felt but not protruding. In short-coated dogs, the last few ribs may even be visible when twisting and turning in play! You can physically feel this out by using your hand. First, make a fist and run your fingers over your knuckles, this is underweight! Next lay your hand flat and feel over your knuckles, this is what ideal weight should feel like. Now you’re on your way! From both the above and the side profile view your dog’s waist should be visibly smaller. From the side, your dog’s tummy should ‘tuck up’ after the rib cage, even in more rotund breeds like bulldogs! Here’s an example of a basenji both overweight and an ideal weight dog.

Overweight:

Healthy:

Do you know how many hours of sleep your canine needs to help its soul shine? I used to hold so much guilt I wasn’t doing ‘enough’ with my dog! Truth is, a balanced and healthy dog enjoys a large part of their day straight chilling, napping, and generally doing nothing. Around 15-18 hours of it in fact depending on their breed. Puppies even more-so ranging from 18-20 hours of pure zen! Their bodies need that to adequately function, and sleep deprivation can lead to some pretty serious side effects such as lowered immunity, poor digestion or ‘leaky gut’, tremors, aches, clumsiness, weight gain, heart disease, stroke, increased anxiety, irritability, memory impairment, and even symptoms similar to that of ADHD. Wow! So you can see, it’s super important that dogs know their automatic ‘off switch’ and use it throughout the day so their boosters can recharge for optimal zoomage (and health). #Napqueens anyone? So picture this: Think of a three-year-old child having the time of their LIFE playing, they do NOT want to nap even if they need it. You see their clumsiness, their irritation, perhaps they get a little wilder and off the wall than normal, even destructive…you KNOW exactly what I’m talking about! Puppies (or potential newly adopted dogs if they were not taught as puppies) are no different from those wild toddlers screaming I DONT WANNA TAKE A NAP while running through the park. They want to be part of the action, it’s only natural.  They need to be taught how to default to their calm state when they feel that anxious, wild, or destructive energy come on. These skills are transferable to other life situations and contribute to an overall reduction in stress! 

The final simple factor in creating a long and healthy life for your dog is good hygiene! Grooming your dog creates a very intimate connection. It also provides the opportunity for you (or your groomer) to examine your dog tip to tail, and keeping up to date on grooming ensures that everything from your dog’s skin, weight, teeth, ears, and nails are being monitored regularly! Matted or dirty fur can lead to or conceal sores, cuts, lumps and bumps, infections, and even bugs like lice or ticks. Overgrown nails cause misalignment in all of your dogs connecting joints from their toes to their hips and shoulders causing severe pain. And unkept teeth can lead to not only gum and tooth infections, but that nasty bacteria is also swallowed and put directly into your dogs’ bloodstream through their gut! YUCK! Keeping up to date on your dogs’ beauty regimen, not only gives you the opportunity to find problem areas but also to PREVENT many illnesses and vet visits before they even occur! YAY!

There we have it! Five very simple ways to significantly improve your dog’s health and longevity. So simple in fact, you may already have these things incorporated into your daily life without realizing just how wonderful they all are for your pup! But if you haven’t yet, what’s stopping you?! 

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