All dog lovers wish their dogs could live forever and no matter how long our dogs do live, it’s never long enough. The sad fact is, dogs have a much shorter life span than their owners. The good news is, there are things that will help your dog live longer.
- Regular Wellness Exams
One of the most important things you can do to help your dog live longer is to provide preventative vet care. Taking your dog to the vet for an annual exam will help you identify problems before they become serious and catch serious problems early.
A typical wellness exam includes a general health assessment, required vaccines, blood work, stool sample, dental exam, and discussion about flea control and diet. Older dogs may need a check up more often.
Another benefit to having your dog receive a regular check up is that if your dog does become sick, your vet will have a base line to start from as well as a previous relationship with your dog.
- Good Dental Hygiene
Poor dental hygiene is much more serious than a case of stinky breath. Dental disease in dogs is caused by bacteria. Canine periodontal disease can cause infected gums, tooth and bone loss, and lead to serious health problems.
A bacterial infection in your dog’s mouth can lead to serious problems such as heart, liver, and kidney disease and diminish the quality of your dog’s life. It can also lead to unnecessary surgery and all the risks associated with it, especially for older dogs.
Preventative measures such as brushing your dog’s teeth, dental exams and cleanings, dental chews, raw bones, and chew toys can help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy.
It may seem like a no brainer but water will keep your dog hydrated and healthy. Wolves, coyotes and other carnivores eat a very moist diet. Kibble and can fed dogs don’t get near as much moisture from their food as wild animals.
A 65 pound dog typically needs about a half gallon of water a day or about one ounce of water per pound. This amount will vary depending on your dog’s activity and the weather.
A chronic lack of moisture can cause digestive problems, kidney damage, and circulatory problems. Just like their humans, our dogs need plenty of clean, fresh water every day.
- Healthy Diet
German Shepherds are notorious for having sensitive skin and stomachs. They also need good nutrition to support their joints and activity level. It’s important to feed them a healthy, balanced diet that is easy to digest and helps protect them from injury and illness.
The best dog food is always up for debate but there are a few things you can do to help you choose the right food for your dog, such as:
Don’t fall for gimmicks and marketing. Choose a dog food company that has an expert formulating the food. At minimum the food should meet AAFCO guidelines and preferably exceed them. Discover if they perform feeding trials. Is the company willing to share nutritional information such as amino acid profiles and how much protein is from actual meat rather than plants? What is their recall history and how do they handle recalls? Do they test their ingredients for toxins before formulation and after processing - before it reaches your pet?
Talk to people who are serious about dog health, such as reputable breeders who invest considerable time and money into their pet. Don’t be afraid to consult with a Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist or your veterinarian. Use caution about so called nutritionists and experts that have no formal training or credentials that plague the internet.
- Weight Control
Don’t let your dog get fat! It can cause joint problems, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, decreased stamina, and complicate other health problems or emergencies.
Talk to your vet about age appropriate supplements that will help your pet stay active and healthy. Popular supplements that can improve the life of a German Shepherd include probiotics, digestive enzymes, joint support, bone broth and more.
Active dogs like German Shepherds need plenty of exercise. Not only does it provide the mental and physical stimulation to keep your dog happy, it also will help them live a long life.
Canine exercise can help reduce destructive behavior, keep the cardiovascular system healthy, keep joints and hips flexible, keep your dog strong, protect them from injury, and keep weight under control.
Most dogs need 30 minutes to an hour of exercise a day. Some much more; some less. The amount and type of exercise depends on the dog, their age, activity level, and health. As well as external factors, like the weather. Using common sense and knowing the health condition of your dog will go a long way in keeping your dog active and protected from injury.