Wellness

12 Secrets To Living A Long Life As A Dog & The World’s (Supposed) Oldest Dogs

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Last Updated: May 13, 2024 | 9 min read | Leave a Comment

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Old Golden Retriever lying with a kitten.
Image credit: Vasek Rak, Shutterstock

If you’re anything like me, your dog isn’t just your pet. They are your best friend (most of the time, anyway). You want to provide them with a loving, fun, and healthy environment and do everything you can to help them live a long and happy life. I explore 12 simple measures to hopefully extend your pooch’s lifespan. I’ve also scoured the web, hoping to discover the world’s oldest living dogs and some of their secrets. Let’s take a closer look.

12 Tips To Help Your Dog Live Longer

It’s no secret that our furry friends bring us joy and provide health benefits. Although I can’t promise that your pup will be the next Guinness World Record holder, I can offer some tips on how to help your dog live a long and healthy life. 

1. Work With A Responsible Breeder

Before you welcome a new pup into your home, the first step towards adopting a healthy dog is choosing a responsible breeder. A responsible breeder does everything they can to produce healthy litters. Although you might be tempted to choose a cheaper breeder, remember that cheaper isn’t always better – or cheaper, for that matter.

Research shows that buying pups from irresponsible breeders and puppy mills can increase the cost of your dog over their lifetime due to a higher risk of health problems, which means costly vet bills. Even puppies from pet stores often come from puppy mills. Check out this short video from the Humane Society of the United States showing the despicable conditions of these mills.

Learn how to find a responsible breeder with our in-depth guide on puppy mills’ despicable practices, how to spot red flags, and tips on how to buy a healthy puppy. 

2. Keep Your Dog Physically & Mentally Active

Regular exercise is crucial for a dog’s physical health, just like staying active is beneficial for us. It helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, builds stronger muscles and bones, keeps them in shape, and more. Establishing a daily exercise routine is essential to keep them in tip-top shape. Most owners of long-living dogs attribute their pup’s longevity to an active lifestyle. 

If you don’t have time to drive to their favorite dog park daily, mix things up with walks around the neighborhood, brain games, or meeting up with your friends or neighbors for doggy playdates in the yard. Regular exercise stimulates their mind and is a healthy way to burn excess energy and reduce stress. If Fido is chewing, digging, or exhibiting other undesirable or strange behaviors, there’s a fair chance they aren’t stimulated enough.

Are you looking for more ways to stimulate your dog’s mind? Check out our favorite snuffle mats and other interactive toys that dogs enjoy.

3. Feed Them A High-Quality Diet

Dog eating Rachel Ray Nutrish wet food.
Photo by Danielle DeGroot, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024.

Another common “secret” that owners of long-living dogs share is that their pup eats a high-quality diet. Choosing a good-quality diet is essential, whether kibble, wet, fresh, or raw. Pick a diet that meets the requirements of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which are specified on the packaging or website. Your dog’s diet must also be age-appropriate, especially during the first year, when their bodies develop. Offering puppy food during this stage can significantly affect their long-term health.

The right diet isn’t the same for every dog because every pooch is different. Always ensure your dog’s dietary needs lead the way in choosing the best diet for them. Often, there are ways to add highly nutritious ingredients to your dog’s bowl, such as pumpkin and blueberries, which are full of antioxidants. Try to offer oily fish occasionally, too, as it is full of healthy fats, which are great for joints, cognitive function, cardiovascular fitness, and overall health.

It’s essential to familiarize yourself with dangerous foods for dogs and keep them out of paw’s reach. And be sure not to feed your dog table scraps, as it increases the risk of obesity and digestive issues. 

4. Socialize Your Dog

Two dogs at the beach.
Photo by Emma Braby, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024.

Dogs who mix and socialize well with other dogs tend to be happier. Dogs who aren’t socialized well as a puppy often develop anxiety and other behavioral issues. If you are welcoming a new puppy into your home, take your puppy to puppy training classes and meet-ups at your local doggy park. You can also consider online dog training courses to increase your knowledge and confidence in doggy training.

If you’re dealing with an older dog who dislikes their own kind and didn’t receive the proper socialization as a pup, the process is slower, but it is possible. The American Kennel Club states that the best way to socialize an older dog is to attend basic dog obedience classes. Classes can build their confidence in a positive and controlled environment. 

Read our guide on how to socialize your puppy correctly, and learn when and how to start this crucial training process.

5. Stay Up-To-Date With Vet Check-Ups & Vaccinations

It’s crucial to visit your dog’s vet regularly, at least every year, to ensure they are healthy and fit. This is just as important for seemingly healthy dogs and could increase their lifespan. There are some illnesses, diseases, or other problems that owners cannot see or tell just by looking at a dog. You never know what is brewing inside. Early detection helps with successful treatment and could save your dog’s life. It’s also crucial to stay up-to-date with vaccinations to help them fight certain illnesses and diseases. 

If your dog doesn’t have regular checkups, check out our guide on how often your dog should visit the vet. We also have a guide on which dog vaccinations are necessary. 

6. Maintain Your Dog’s Dental Health

Dog looking at toothbrush and tube of Petsmile toothpaste.
Photo by Sadie Cornelius, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024.

Owners often overlook dental health, but it is one of the most significant influences on their overall health and can impact their lifespan. Research shows that over 80% of dogs over three years old have periodontal disease, which is an inflammation or infection of the gum. This infection can spread around the body, enter the bloodstream, and affect their organs and overall health. Establish a regular dental regime, and brush their teeth several times a week or daily. 

If you still need to establish a dental regime, the best time to start is now. Please read our complete guide to brushing your dog’s teeth to learn how simple it can be.

7. Avoid Obesity

Avoid obesity by keeping them active and not overfeeding them, no matter how good their puppy-dog stare is. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that more than 59% of dogs are overweight. If you’re concerned that your pup is overweight, speak to your vet, who can provide an estimated ideal body weight. If they’re over their ideal weight, your vet can offer tips on reducing their weight. It might not be as simple as less food and more movement. 

We have a guide for anyone unsure if their dog is overweight or obese and how to take steps towards a healthier size and lifestyle.

8. Consider Dog Supplements

Sally dog eating Maev supplement treat bars.
Photo by Kimberly Alt, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024.

A range of dietary supplements are available for dogs to alleviate ailments like arthritis and poor skin and coat conditions. Others boost their vitamin and mineral intake to keep them fitter and healthier. Dr Godfrey states, “As a vet, the majority of vitamins and supplements that I recommend for dogs are in response to a specific problem.” But remember that no matter what supplements you choose, it’s essential to research and speak to your vet before adding them to your dog’s diet. 

If you are curious about adding supplements to your dog’s diet and what ones to consider, check out our guide to the best dog vitamins and supplements for enhanced health.

9. Consider Spaying Or Neutering

If you’re not planning on breeding your canine, it’s crucial to consider spaying or neutering. These procedures are more than just breeding control. They are scientifically proven to improve doggy health and lengthen their lifespan. The University of Georgia found that these procedures can increase a dog’s life expectancy in males by 14% and females by 26%. At the same time, not spaying or neutering them can lower their lifespan by around two years.

These procedures can also lower the chances of developing infections and certain cancers and prevent behavioral issues associated with intact dogs. Now that you know about the benefits of spaying or neutering your dog, please consider it. The best time to spay or neuter your dog differs for all dogs. Speak to your vet, who can advise on the best time for your pet. 

10. Pay Attention & Make Changes

Always pay attention to your dog and how they appear and behave. As dogs age, some changes are expected, and some are not. Typical changes include becoming less active, eating less, and sleeping more. Abnormal changes could be agitated sleep, extreme fatigue, lumps, and the inability to control bowel movements. If you think your pooch is showing abnormal behaviors or conditions, take them to your vet for a checkup. 

As dogs age, you might need to modify your routine, home layout, and behavior toward them. If they are experiencing eyesight problems, try to keep the layout of your home consistent. Don’t approach them from behind if they begin to lose their hearing. Otherwise, you risk startling them. If they are experiencing mobility problems, install ramps or inexpensive carpet runners to make your home safer and them more comfortable.

Learn more about how to care for a senior dog and keep them happy and healthy. 

11. Provide Them With A Happy Home & Shower Them With Love

Falkor the dog with ring toy in mouth.
Photo by Danielle DeGroot, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024.

Dogs that lead a happy life and feel loved are usually healthier. Stress can affect dogs as much as humans, so try to keep stress in the home to a minimum. Of course, this is not always possible. Show your dog you love them by spending time, playing, and fussing with them. Taking time to strengthen your bond is vital to a happy Fido, and can help them live a longer life.

Discover the signs of a stressed dog, how to calm them, and when to seek professional help.

12. Consider Pet Insurance

As a responsible pet owner, you have to prepare for the worst. It’s crucial to consider a pet insurance policy for your dog. Some illnesses require long-term medical care, and others are unexpected, eye-watering expenses. Canine Journal conducted a recent study and found that nearly half of the 1,000 respondents would consider euthanasia if vet bills were too costly. An insurance plan can help offset the financial burden associated with medical costs and ensure that your pooch is taken care of properly. 

If you want to learn more about the best insurance plans, check out our pet insurance reviews from our pet insurance expert. 

A List Of The World’s Longest Lived & Living Dogs

Finding verified records of the world’s oldest dogs is virtually impossible, and plenty of unverified claims exist. After scouring the web for the longest-lived and living dogs, here is a list of what is thought to be the top 8 longest-lived and living dogs, with some information about them. I have included links for each dog to either the Guinness World Records site or a news source for you to investigate further if you want to. But after the Bobi saga (see frequently asked questions) – who really knows?

AgeBreedHome Country
Bluey29 years, 5 monthsAustralian Cattle DogAustralia
Pusuke26 years, 8 monthsShiba Inu MixJapan
Spike24 years (living)Chihuahua MixUnited States
Cicci23 years, 364 daysVolpino x Poodle MixItaly
Gino-Wolf23 years (living)Chihuahua & American Eskimo Dog MixUnited States
Piccolo23 years, 2 monthsUnknown Mixed BreedItaly
Toby-Keith23 years (living)ChihuahuaUnited States
Pebbles22 years, 189 daysToy Fox TerrierUnited States
At the time of writing, Spike, Gino, and Toby-Keith are believed to still be alive and well.

Frequently Asked Questions

We know that some of our readers still have questions about dogs’ lifespans and how to keep their beloved pets with them longer. If you don’t see your question below, ask us in the comments, and we’ll find the answer for you. 

Why Do Some Dogs Live Longer Than Others?

A recent study by the Dogs Trust in the UK, the largest of its kind, provided new insights into why some dog breeds live longer than others. The research suggests that a dog’s breed, body size, and face shape are determining factors in life expectancy. Smaller dogs with flat faces have a 40% increased risk of a shorter life span. Large breeds have a 20% higher risk of a shorter lifespan. Of course, every dog is different. Most experts agree that a dog’s genetics, lifestyle, and environment significantly affect their health and lifespan. 

Who Is The Longest-Ever-Lived Dog?

There is much debate about who the longest-lived and living dog is. The Guinness World Records recently rescinded the title of the world’s oldest living dog. Bobi, a Rafeiro do Alentejo from Conqueiros, Portugal, was publicly named the longest-living dog. But after he died in October 2023, an investigation was launched, and it was found that there was no conclusive evidence to support this claim. It is believed that the longest-ever-lived dog was an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey, who lived 29 years and five months.

Want To Know How Long Your Dog Might Live?

If you’re curious about how long your dog might live, visit our guide on the life expectancy of dogs and the average lifespan of certain dog breeds. If you’re not 100% sure about what breed your dog is, why not take an at-home DNA test to learn more about their ancestry?

Do you have any secrets that helped your dog live a long and happy life? Or maybe you know a really old Fido? We’d love to hear your stories, so please let us know in the comments below.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Emma is a dog owner with over 20 years of experience with canines. She has also worked as a professional dog walker and sitter for many years, caring for several dog breeds with different needs, including senior pups. Emma dedicates countless hours researching the latest pet care, health, food, and training developments to keep her two best buddies and other doggy clients as happy and healthy as possible.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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