Dog Magazine

How to Maintain Longevity in Big Breeds

It’s a sad statistical fact that larger breed dogs have shorter lifespans than smaller species. This is most likely due to the fact that their bigger bodies partake in more exercise and are put under more stress than a smaller dog, leading to increased wear and tear on organs, muscles, joints and coronary system.

While a smaller dog is generally expected to live up to and sometimes beyond 14 years, larger breeds are considered senior citizens in the canine world as early as their sixth year, with the majority living to between 8 and 12 years old. As such, it’s important for owners of larger breeds to take extra care of their larger dogs to help ensure they reach their genetic potential, achieving optimal health span and a long life span.

Breed size and lifespan

There are a number of reasons why larger dogs don’t reach the older ages that their smaller friends tend to achieve. Amongst others, these reasons include:

Over-eating. The tendency to feed up bigger dogs can be more prevalent than with smaller ones, leading to obesity. In fact, a study of 23,000 dogs from private veterinarians across Kansas from the Mark Morris Institute found that more than a quarter of the test subjects were overweight. Such obesity is a catalyst for life-threatening diseases and ailments.

Increased stress. The added exercise and strain that large breeds undertake puts greater stress on their bodies.

Common joint issues. Larger breeds are more susceptible to joint issues such as hip dysplasia and arthritis, which can result in less exercise and thus obesity.

What can you do to enhance your big breed’s life and healthspan?

Fortunately, if you follow a few simple rules you can almost negate entirely the negative side-effects that a larger body weight entails in dogs. These guidelines will provide you with a basic structure for ensuring your large breed lives just as long as his canine brethren.

1) Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition

During 10 years of learning Eukanuba recently found that almost 90% of a group of 39 Labradors Retrievers fed Eukanuba, together with receiving appropriate care (regular exercise, socialisation, veterinary care), lived beyond the breed´s typical 12 years life span.

In addition to this almost a third (28%) of the dogs achieved exceptional longevity by living beyond an incredible 15.6 years.* Utah is one of those dogs who lived to an incredible 17 years and 11 months.

Meanwhile, the Kennel Club guidelines highlight a need to focus on bone density and joint comfort in big breeds, and that necessitates a diet containing calcium levels tailored to your dog’s age and breed. You’ll also want to ensure that your big dog’s diet includes kibble containing plenty of glucosamine and chondroitin to promote cartilage health. And remember, bone health is best addressed when your pet is still a puppy and the bones are developing.

2) Avoid obesity

As mentioned above, obesity is at epidemic proportions. Two portion controlled meals a day following feeding guidelines – are optimal for maintaining a healthy weight. One of the chief pitfalls to be aware of is overfeeding your large-breed dog, as weight gain puts undue pressure on joints and can lead to problems down the line.

3) Stay active

Make sure your dog gets enough chance to work off those calories by stretching their legs regularly, during a walk of at least thirty minutes a day, (an hour is even better). Keeping a trim and lean dog will do wonders for their long-term health.

4) Provide adequate dental care

Pooches over the age of three years are at risk of developing gum disease, say the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). This can act as a gateway for further dental problems, which can spread throughout the body and seriously curtail their life expectancy. You’ll want to ensure you maintain your pup’s dental health with daily brushing, dental checks at the vets and feeding a Eukanuba diet which contains a special tooth cleaning mineral to help reduce tartar build up by up to 80%* tartar-controlling treats and chews, as well as regular cleanings.

Big breed dogs are lovable, huggable family members—but caring for them properly is a bit different than for a Chihuahua. Make sure you look after their health with care, and you could enjoy many long years with your pup’s companionship.

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