How to Live Longer! (Pet Edition)

How to Live Longer! (Pet Edition)

As proud pet parents we enjoy the privilege of experiencing the immense joy pets add to our lives, along with the deep sadness when we must say goodbye. Every pet owner shares the same hope: that their furry friends enjoy long, healthy lives. Despite significant strides in veterinary care and pet health management, it appears that many of our canine companions might not be reaching their full potential in terms of lifespan.

In this article, we will explore some of the reasons why this might be the case, and discuss what we can do to help our pets live their happiest, healthiest lives for as long as possible.

Leading Causes of Deaths


Cancer is a major reason why dogs pass away, especially as they get older. Research shows that cancer causes nearly half of all deaths in dogs that are 10 years old or more.

Heart Disease

Heart problems can also be a reason why older dogs die, though the number can change a lot. Typically, about 10-20% of older dog deaths are because of heart issues, especially in specific breeds that are more likely to have them.

Degenerative Disease

Conditions like arthritis don't directly lead to death, but they can make a dog's life harder. Sometimes, when a dog's quality of life declines too much because of diseases like arthritis, owners might have to make the difficult decision to put their pet to sleep.


The Longevity Equation

Genetics + Environmental + Lifestyle = Life expectancy

When it comes to living long and aging well, several factors come into play: genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Let's take a closer look at how each of these factors can affect how long we live.


Genetic Factors

Genetic factors are traits passed down from parents and ancestors that can affect your health and how long you and your pets live:

1. Longevity genes

Some genes are connected to living a longer life. For instance, changes in the FOXO3 gene are linked to living exceptionally long.

2. Disease susceptibility genes

These genes can make you more likely to get certain diseases like heart disease, cancer, or hip dysplasia. Having these genes can indirectly affect how long your pets live by impacting their overall health.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors refer to the outside conditions and influences that affect an individual throughout their life:

1. Air and water quality

Breathing in polluted air or drinking contaminated water can lead to health issues like respiratory and heart diseases, which can shorten how long someone lives.

2. Exposure to toxins and chemicals

Being around harmful substances, whether at work or through personal choices like smoking or drinking, can have a big impact on health and how long someone lives.

3. Safe living spaces

Living in a clean and safe environment reduces stress and lowers the risk of accidents or injuries. This includes having secure homes without dangers and having comfortable places to rest.

4. Climate control

Making sure pets are protected from extreme temperatures and bad weather helps keep them healthy all year round.

5. Preventive healthcare

Regular visits to the vet, getting vaccinations, parasite control, and taking care of dental health can catch health problems early and keep pets healthy for longer.


Lifestyle Factors

Lifestyle factors are perhaps the most controllable elements that affect longevity and include:


  • Quality of Food
Feeding high-quality, nutritionally balanced pet food designed for the pet’s specific life stage, breed, and health status can significantly impact their health.
  • Portion Control
Proper portion sizes help prevent obesity, which is associated with numerous health problems in pets.
  • Treats and Supplements
While treats can be used effectively for training, overfeeding treats can lead to weight gain. Supplements might be needed based on specific health conditions, but should always be given in consultation with a veterinarian.


  • Regular Physical Activity

Regular walks, playtime, and appropriate exercise are crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and supporting cardiovascular health, joint health, and mental well-being.

  • Mental Stimulation

Activities that stimulate the mind, like training exercises, puzzle toys, and interaction with humans or other animals, can improve the quality of life and mental health.

Stress Management

  • Routine

A consistent daily routine for feeding, exercise, and social interaction can help reduce anxiety and stress in pets.

  • Sleep

Adequate and quality sleep is crucial for physical and mental health, impacting everything from cognitive function to metabolic health.


So What Can We Do?

While Genetic and Environmental factors are fixed, we can largely impact the Lifestyle factors our furbabies experience.

The Top 3 Cause of mortality in pets, cancer, heart disease and degenerative disease. Can all be delayed by proper a diet and excercise regime. In a nutshell. Fit and healthy leads to long and lively.

Employ these three steps to optimise your pets health:

1. Intermittent fasting:

involves giving your pet food during a specific time period, usually ranging from 1 to 8 hours. Studies suggest that fasting can lower the levels of insulin growth factor (IGF-1), which is linked to a higher risk of cancer. Fasting also helps the body's cells clean themselves up (a process called autophagy) and strengthens normal cells' ability to fight cancer. For example, research showed that combining a fasting-like diet with chemotherapy improved how well the treatment worked by boosting the immune system and reducing the defense mechanism of cancer cells.

(Cedars-Sinai)​​ (USC Today)​.


2. Low-Carbohydrate Diet

The ketogenic diet, which is high in fats and low in carbohydrates, forces the body to use fats instead of carbohydrates for energy—a state known as ketosis, which significantly contributes to weight optimisation.This diet has been studied for its potential to starve cancer cells, as they primarily rely on glucose for energy. Preliminary findings suggest that such a diet could slow tumor growth and enhance the efficacy of conventional cancer treatments​

(Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)​​ (Hello Doctor)​.


3. Exercise

Regular physical activity is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight and improving cardiovascular health. It helps to lower blood pressure, improve heart function, joint health, and reduces stress. For pets, regular exercise tailored to their specific needs and physical capabilities can help delay the onset and progression of heart disease as well as degenerative diseases such as arthritis.​ (Mayo Clinic)​.


Quick Recap

Pets are NOT living as long as they could be. To ensure pets stay with you longer do these 3 things:

1. Feed 1-2 times a day for adults

2. Feed a meat based diet low in carbs

3. Ensure they get adequate exercise appropriate for their breed and age.

Our pets are unique, and with all general health advice, what works for one might not work for another. So, if you're thinking about making any changes to your pet's lifestyle, it's important to talk to your trusted vet first.

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