It might sound too simple to be true, but the best way to naturally add years to your dog’s life is through diet.
Multiple dietary interventions backed by scientific studies have demonstrated the power of nutrition on dogs’ lifespan and health-span.
Nutrition might be your best opportunity to make a major and long-lasting impact on your dog’s wellbeing.
When it comes to our dogs’ lifespan, I think it’s safe to say that most of us agree on one thing: we all want our furry companions to stay with us for as long as possible.
Because of their status of family members, pet dogs enjoy a lot of the same perks that people do.
Comfortable shelter, food security, access to vaccines, drugs and to a relatively thorough health care system, and even a couch and Netflix at night are a few of their privileges.
As pet parents we can proudly say that thanks to all the care we provide (and all the money we spend), our pets are much less likely to die from starvation, a treatable infection, an injury, or being eaten by a predator.
Are dogs living longer?
Our dogs’ lifespan is now longer.
According to this article, dogs these days are living twice as long as they use to live 40 years ago.
However, the fact that some dogs can make it into their late 20s is evidence that there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
But here’s the amazing thing, scientists now know that the dog’s lifespan as well as other animals’ lifespan can be extended without any genetic or pharmaceutical intervention (or any other sci-fi-movie-like creepy technology such as young blood transfusion, body parts replacement, cryopreservation, or gene editing, to mention a few).
More importantly, and contrary to what a lot of people believe, those extra years that your dog can potentially live do not have to be filled with diseases and debilitating conditions.
I’m not talking here about immortal beings hanging around in a grim, never-ending existence.
Rather, I refer here to prolonging the healthy years of life, a.k.a. health-span, the years a dog lives free of disease.
It’s about improving the quality of life.
It’s about aging gracefully.
It’s putting more life into the years and not only more years to dogs’ lives.
The obvious question is then: how can we increase our dogs’ lifespan and help them live healthier in a natural way?
Nutrition for longer dog lifespan.
Mounting scientific evidence demonstrates that dogs’ lifespan and health-span can be extended or shortened depending on what we feed them.
In fact, as this study concluded:
“Lifespan is generally accepted as having a heritability of approximately 25–30 %, with the effect of the environment having a much larger influence.”
“Nutrition is part of this environmental influence and therefore has a potentially significant role to play in longevity.”
What dog food makes dogs live the longest?
Is there a diet that makes dogs live longer?
Another powerful, and perhaps counterintuitive, strategy to keep your dog healthy and slow down aging is not a food, but rather, the lack thereof.
Intermittent fasting is the most robust and studied method that prolongs the healthy years and lifespan of animals.
Experimental data has accumulated during the past 100 years demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach.
Hundreds of scientific studies and publications agree on the positive effects of dietary restriction on health.
And dogs are not the exception when it comes to reaping all the benefits of fasting.
A study published in 2002 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association analyzed what happened to dogs when they were fed 25% less food during their lifetime relative to the normal amount of food fed to another control group.
They found that food-restriction increased the dogs’ lifespan an average of 2 years.
2 extra years of healthy life!
That’s the power of intermittent fasting.
Other studies have confirmed these findings.
For example, another group of researchers found that feeding dogs only once a day resulted in better overall health and a longer lifespan.
So, intermittent fasting is a dietary intervention that’s both, practical and inexpensive, and easy to put in practice to extend your dog’s lifespan.
There’s a whole section dedicated to fasting dogs in our blog here.
Working to extend dog lifespan through diet.
At My Zone Blue our mission is to help you help your dog live healthy for many, many years.
We’re working hard, guided by this powerful science, to develop treats, food toppers, and complete diets that will do exactly that: prolong the healthy years and extend the lifespan of your dog.
Being a family of scientists and pet lovers, we also spend a good amount of time and effort researching the literature and providing a “digestible” version of the current knowledge on pet nutrition in this blog.
So, keep tuned (or, if you haven’t, subscribe to our newsletter) for more updates on these projects.
Extending dogs’ lifespan, and more importantly, their healthy years seems now within reach with these simple and safe nutritional interventions.
Virtually any dog parent can easily take advantage of them and enjoy more quality time with his/her loved companion.
Together we can create a longevity Blue Zone for our pets!
I'm not a veterinarian. I'm a scientist and I make every effort to provide science-based evidence in my articles and links to reliable sources. The content of these articles is for educational purposes only. You should discuss with your veterinarian before making any decision regarding the health of your pet.