How Long Does a Dog Live
The life expectancy of adult dogs is said to be about thirteen years. That is an average, as many die on the highways and, at a young age, by other unnatural causes. In our experience, most properly cared for canines live to fourteen or fifteen years. The giant breeds and Boxers are exceptions, with an average life expectancy of eight to nine years. There is good evidence that life expectancy is a genetic trait; that during the development of the embryo, the life span is predetermined and somehow imprinted on each animal. It has been observed that some strains in a given breed tend to live longer than others in that same breed.
If you assume life expectancy is hereditary you must not assume the quality of life is a stereotyped fact. There are many factors within our control that when applied enhance the quality of life for the geriatric pet: medications for the heart and lungs, for kidneys, and even arthritis, to name a few. Perhaps the most important consideration concerns nutrition. But you say the old dog has always been on one diet and has done well for so many years, what difference does the diet make? Depending on the individual animal, perhaps a great deal.
Commercial dog foods are indeed nutritionally balanced and nourishing, but if certain problems develop, a change of nutrition can and does prolong the quality of life. If the kidneys have lost some of their capability of filtering wastes from the system then a change to a diet that produces less waste may be helpful. Likewise, if the heart is failing and the retention of fluid is a problem, a low-sodium diet may be helpful. Our favorite diet of ours for the geriatric animal consists of equal parts of lightly cooked inexpensive hamburger, boiled rice, and canned to my – toes. There is a minimum of nitrogenous waste produced in the dog for the kidneys to eliminate and this diet is reasonably low in sodium.
Many old dogs require a good deal of care as they react to the end. Some show signs of senility by ceasing to be housebroken. As sight, hearing, and reflexes are impaired, a pet must be watched over more carefully than previously. A deaf dog cannot hear danger approaching and if eyesight is failing cannot see it. There is no sadder event than seventeen – year – the old dogs being struck by a car. After it has avoided this danger for a long lifetime, the protective signals just weren’t there. The old dog deserves a better fate. Most of us are willing after a lifetime of loyalty and affection from it to give of ourselves to make the golden years as comfortable as possible.
One way to help is to find problems before they become serious. Home physical exams should be employed on regular basis. And when its last day approach, don’t permit an old-timer to wander away aimlessly, to lose their way and die from exhaustion far from the security and love found in your home.
The three most common causes of death in old dogs in descending order are, it seems to us, cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease. This statement is not the result of statistical analysis but of clinical evaluations that may be colored by the hideousness of cancer and by our helplessness to cure it in so many cases.
Many a terminally ill dog will have so many concurrent problems it is difficult to determine which single one is the cause of death. And perhaps it is not important.
See more: How Much to Feed a Dog
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