11 things that shorten your dog’s life

Szénási Szimonetta

2024. April 26 - Photos: Love My Dogz

Every pet owner wants their companion to stay with them for as long as possible. However, there are certain bad habits and neglectful behaviors that significantly shorten an animal's life.


“Among the following, some are genuine neglect, but it happens that someone unintentionally, and even with good intentions, shortens the dog’s life. Yes, unfortunately, there are times when the owner expresses their love in a way that harms the animal. Let’s go through what mistakes you might make and how you can fix them!

As a responsible owner, you can do a lot to ensure that your pet stays with you for a long time /Photo: Love My Dogz

1.) Obesity

One of the most typical mistakes is letting your pet carry excess weight. Obesity can significantly shorten a dog’s life as it becomes a breeding ground for numerous health issues. Diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, and heart diseases are more common in overweight dogs, to name just a few of the most serious ones.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53 percent of dogs they examined last year were overweight. What’s even more concerning is that 95 percent of these owners thought their pets were of normal weight. So, they weren’t even aware that there was an issue with their animals.

This is confirmed by Dr. Shari Brown, a veterinarian, who provided a vivid example to the PetMD animal health website. According to her, giving your pet just 8 grams of cheddar cheese is calorically and proportionally equivalent to you eating 1.5 hamburgers or 3 slices of chocolate. And it’s not just human food that can be problematic! Too much dog food or excessive treats can also lead to weight gain. Beyond shortening lifespan, it significantly deteriorates the quality of life.

As a pet owner, you can stick to the feeding routine established with the help of your veterinarian. This routine should consider your dog’s breed, age, health condition, and lifestyle.

If your pet is already struggling with obesity, reformulate their diet with the help of a veterinarian. Additionally, gradually increase their daily exercise in a controlled manner. However, be careful not to overdo it because both overly strict diets and excessive physical exertion can be harmful!

Instead of treats, pamper your dog with your attention! / Photo: Love My Dogz

2) Neglected oral hygiene

As Dr. Lilla Balatonyi pointed out, nearly every dog is affected by periodontal disease at some point in their lives. Surveys suggest that two-thirds of dogs will eventually experience gum problems, while other viewpoints suggest that after the age of 3, about 80% of dogs struggle with discomfort.

In short, the problem is this: bacteria in the dog’s mouth form plaque, which accumulates at the gum line. If not removed, it mineralizes, leading to tartar buildup. This causes inflammation, eventually resulting in tooth disease and loss. It can even affect the bone.

Therefore, it’s crucial to regularly brush your pet’s teeth and have the vet examine their mouth during routine check-ups. Tartar that has already formed can only be removed by a veterinarian, as home remedies can lead to injury!

Regular dental care can prevent serious illnesses / Photo: Love My Dogz

3) Missed check-ups

Thanks to the routine veterinary visits mentioned earlier, serious illnesses that are more effectively treatable in their early stages can be identified early on. If these visits are skipped, the risk increases that any abnormalities or illnesses will only be discovered too late. That’s why it’s important to have your pet seen by a vet at least once a year, and for animals with chronic illnesses or older pets, it’s advisable to visit the clinic at least every six months.

4) Too little exercise

Adequate exercise appropriate to your pet’s breed and age is essential for their health. It’s not an excuse to say they played a lot yesterday, so today you’ll rest! Just as your extra work or accumulated household chores can’t be an excuse – you need to make time for walks (and not just “potty breaks”!).

Besides physical activity, walks and play provide mental stimulation for your dog, which is also crucial for a balanced life.

5) Passive smoking

We won’t dwell too much on this point because everyone knows that all forms of smoking, including electronic cigarettes, are harmful to both smokers and those around them.

Just like in humans, smoking significantly increases the risk of various diseases, including cancerous growths and respiratory problems, in animals too. Never smoke indoors, and don’t consider walking your dog as a cigarette break!

6) Neglecting parasite control

We have published numerous articles emphasizing the importance of protecting against fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, as well as skin and heartworms. All these parasites pose potentially lethal threats to your pet, either by inducing conditions or carrying diseases that can kill the animal. After this sentence, we don’t believe further arguments are needed to regularly ensure your pet’s protection and undergo necessary screening tests.

From spring onwards, parasites attack even more intensely /Photo: Love My Dogz

7.) Overexertion

Just like too little exercise, excessive strain can also shorten a dog’s life. Certain breeds are particularly sensitive to overactivity. The so-called brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldogs, are especially prone to overheating even in mild weather due to their anatomy.

Always maintain a lifestyle appropriate for your pet’s breed. Our breed descriptions (available here) and advice from a veterinarian or breeder can serve as a guide in this regard.

Short-nosed or brachycephalic dogs are less tolerant of exercise and are more prone to overheating / Photo: Love My Dogz

8.) Feeding your dog leftovers

In addition to risking the obesity already discussed, a significant portion of human food is not suitable for dogs. Some of them are toxic (such as chocolate, onions, xylitol, grapes, etc.), while other dishes are too fatty or spicy, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems or pancreatitis.

9.)Letting your dog roam

Especially in houses with gardens, it’s common for owners to not pay enough attention to keeping their dog within the property; the animal may sometimes escape, take a stroll around the neighborhood, make friends, or go on an adventure – as many explain this phenomenon.

However, by doing this, the owner risks various accidents, including being hit by a vehicle, getting lost, or the dog being captured, in addition to committing an offense.

Similarly, it’s dangerous if you unleash your dog or let the leash too loose during a walk. (The much-debated flexi leash.) Consider dog walking as a shared activity, and pay attention to your pet accordingly.

Keep your pet safe while you walking /Phot: Love My Dogz

10.) Your pet is not neutered

Neutering has been proven to reduce the risk of numerous cancers (breast, testicular, prostate, etc.), thereby extending the dog’s life.

Additionally, the animal will go through the mating period more calmly. Many pets fall victim to escaping or wandering during heat cycles.

11.) You don’t socialize your dog

Lack of socialization not only leads to behavioral problems but also prevents the dog from living a quality life like its well-raised counterparts who are familiar with the world’s aspects. This can lead to emotional and mental issues, or even physical ailments. (Think about injuries due to fear aggression or physical symptoms caused by constant anxiety.)

Although there is a critical period for socialization, after which it becomes difficult to intervene in the dog’s development, it’s by no means impossible! Seek professional help, such as an experienced trainer. Remarkable changes can be achieved through persistent, consistent training!

Would you like to take maximum care of your pet in every season? THIS article will focus on breeds that particularly struggle with heat.

accident Cancer obesity oral hygiene overweight routine veterinary checks socialisation walk walking

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