The oldest dog in the world these days is believed to be a working Kelpie from Australia. There is no paperwork to confirm it, but her pet parents think that she is thirty years old. The Aussie breeds seem to be quite long lived because prior to this, the record holder was Bluey, a Cattle Dog that died at 29. He was said to be still working cattle when he was twenty years old. Other long-lived dogs from the Land Down Under were a Kelpie that lived to eighteen and a Border Collie that died at 23.
With the average lifespan of dogs being around twelve years, why is it that some enjoy a longer life? The answer may be in the genes.
A ten-year study conducted by the University of Washington and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging studied yeast cells. They identified over 200 genes that, when removed, increased the duration of time that the yeast cells could replicate. Is that information relevant to canines though? It looks like it is. Many of these age-extending genes are found in roundworms, which suggest that they are still present in higher organisms. In fact, almost half of the genes that are involved in aging can also be identified in mammals, including human beings. That implies that they are also very likely to occur in dogs.
If your pup’s genetics is the main influence on how long they will live, does that mean the length of their life is out of your hands? Not at all. There are a number of things that can be done to promote a long healthy life for your pooch.
1. Prevent disease. Vaccinate your dog to protect them from dangerous diseases. Control parasites such as heartworm and intestinal worms. It is so much cheaper to prevent disease than to treat it, and is better for your pup’s health, too.
2. Feed your dog appropriately. A balanced diet is the best way to make sure that they get all the nutrients they need. If your pooch has a medical condition that can be helped by diet, follow your vet’s recommendations with respect to food. This can slow the progression of disease and reduce the symptoms.
3. Speaking of feeding, watch how much you put in your dog’s bowl. One study suggested that by restricting a dog’s food intake and keeping them lean, you would extend their lifespan by up to two years. In addition, the onset of age-related conditions such as arthritis is delayed.
4. Neutering can prevent potentially life-threatening illnesses such as breast cancer and pyometron in female dogs. A neutered male will be less interested in leaving their yard to find a female in season. This means that they are less likely to be involved in a dogfight or a collision with a car. A secure fence that’s an appropriate height will also help prevent your canine Romeo from wandering.
5. Take your pet to your vet once a year for a thorough exam and blood tests. This will pick up any illness that is simmering away before obvious symptoms appear. Early diagnosis means early treatment and usually a better result.None of these suggestions is difficult or takes up a lot of time. If you follow them, your pooch will have the best chance of living a long and healthy life.