May 22, 2023 4 min read
It’s generally agreed that ancient dogs used to live much longer than our modern pets, whose life expectancies always feel too short. Much like us humans, we are starting to understand that improved nutrition can support longer, healthier lives. More people are adopting fresh food alternatives for their four-legged friends in the pursuit of giving our dogs the best, and longest lives possible.
We’ve come a long way from owning dogs as simply utilities that helped with hunting, to dogs that are now critical members of our families. It’s natural for us to care about the well-being of these wonderful animals that have made a home in our hearts. Dog years go by a lot faster than human years so it makes sense to want to preserve their lives for as long as possible. But more than that, longevity is also about doing our best to prevent disease and premature ageing, and so improving the quality of their lives.
Some factors that promote longevity for your hound are:
We’re gonna dive into this more below!
The DNA and predispositions your dog is born with.
Adequate exercise does wonders for your dog’s mental and physical health!
Dogs pick up on our emotions and even mirror them. It’s a win-win to work on your own stress levels and create an environment where your dog feels safe and happy.
These are external factors that may impact your dog’s health.
You’ll notice that for most of these factors, our dogs depend on us to provide them with what they need to thrive (a safe space, exercise, nutritious food, baths etc). Caring for our dogs is a great responsibility and we’re here to help you make more informed decisions, especially with respect to nutrition.
A great resource for longevity in dogs is the book, The Forever Dog, which you should definitely read if you’re interested in this topic (we know you are).
Diet & Nutrition for Longevity
Since dogs are considered part of the family, we can apply some understanding of what works for our other (human) members of the family. We know that processed, fast food isn’t good for us and while we enjoy eating it, we don’t eat it everyday. When it comes to looking after our health, we’ll take fresh food over preservatives and colourants and other chemicals any day of the week. So why is it different for our fur-kids? Let’s take a look at how food choices affect the health and longevity of our dogs.
Typical dog foods are made for human convenience rather than the well-being of our pets, they can be overloaded with refined carbohydrates which dogs have a reduced need for. Obesity in pets has become commonplace and carrying too much weight can contribute to kidney disease, diabetes, hormone imbalances, heart failure, high blood pressure, arthritis and even cancer. That’s quite a list, and it’s all easily avoidable.
You can take a look at our feeding guide if you need some help with working out how much food is enough for your hound.
Another factor in nutrition is blood sugar and insulin. Again, many pet foods, particularly kibble, have larger amounts of refined starch, which is processed into sugars. Overdoing refined carbs leads to blood sugar spikes which means higher levels of insulin. Too much insulin over time can cause inflammation and ageing.
A healthy immune system (and gut microbiome) for cell repair is another important factor in longevity. You can read more about it in our blog post on a healthy gut microbiome, but to sum up, a varied, minimally-processed diet is way better for dogs.
The University of Helsinki has done some interesting research into how a dog’s diet at the early stages of their life can impact their health later on. This includes their gut health and predisposition to allergies. Dogs that were given non-high-heat-processed, meat-based food were less likely to experience disease and allergies later on in life.
The ever important balanced, varied diet (in the right amounts of course) can improve your dog’s health and longevity.
Studies have confirmed that:
- Dogs are better able to digest and absorb nutrients from fresh food
- Fresh vegetables can reduce cancer risks
And additionally, ultra-processed food (mostly what’s available on supermarket shelves):
- Reduces protein quality
- Breaks up certain vitamins
- Produces carcinogens
Our dogs rely on us to make the best choices for their well-being.
We’re able to not just extend their lives but improve their quality of life too! As pet parents that’s what we really care about.
Feeding our dogs the way they’re meant to eat is the least we can do as caregivers. Most of our choices for dog food on the market aren’t just missing the mark when it comes to providing the best, but they can actually cause harm. Fresh food alternatives, that are complete and balanced, are becoming more accessible and we want them to become the norm! Overly processed and preserved market-standards are no longer more convenient and the happy pup on the packaging is no longer fooling us.
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