Mortality, be it ours, or loved ones or our most beloved dogs’, is a tricky subject to both discuss and come to terms with. The quest for immortality, we all know, is a futile one. However, there are certainly a number of steps one can take to improve both lifespan and quality of life. Indeed, as in humans, a dog’s lifespan can be positively influenced by consistently and assiduously maintaining small trifles of good behaviour. These small acts are the difference between the average dog and those that live long, loved lives.
The importance of immunisation just can’t be overstated. They easily sit atop many an intelligent person’s list of the most important and influential developments of science. While it seems like in 2016 this should be common knowledge and not worth harping on about, alarming statistics indicate that about half of all US pet dogs are not vaccinated as per internationally recommended guidelines.
Here is a chart of a typical, complete dog vaccination schedule:
|Initial Puppy Vaccination (at or under 16 weeks)||Initial Adult Dog Vaccination (over 16 weeks)||Booster Recommendation||
|Rabies 1-year||Can be administered in one dose, as early as 3 months of age. States regulate the age at which it is first administered.||Single dose||Annual boosters are required.||Core dog vaccine.Rabies is 100% fatal to dogs, with no treatment available. Prevention is key.|
|Rabies 3-year||Can be administered as one dose, as early as 3 months of age. States regulate the age at which it is first administered.||Single dose||A second vaccination is recommended after 1 year, then boosters every 3 years.||Core dog vaccine.|
|Distemper||At least 3 doses, given between 6 and 16 weeks of age||2 doses, given 3-4 weeks apart||Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing their initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more often.||Core dog vaccine.Caused by an airborne virus, distemper is a severe disease that, among other problems, may cause permanent brain damage.|
|Parvovirus||At least 3 doses, given between 6 and 16 weeks of age||2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart||Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing the initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more often.||Core dog vaccine.Canine “parvo” is contagious, and can cause severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Parvo is usually fatal if untreated.|
|Adenovirus, type 1 (CAV-1, canine hepatitis)||At least 3 doses, between 6 and 16 weeks of age||2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart||Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing the initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more often.||Core dog vaccine.Spread via infected urine and feces; canine hepatitis can lead to severe liver damage, and death.|
|Adenovirus, type 2 (CAV-2 (kennel cough)||At least 3 doses, between 6 and 16 weeks of age||2 doses, 3-4 weeks apart||Puppies need a booster 1 year after completing the initial series, then all dogs need a booster every 3 years or more often.||Core dog vaccine.Spread via Spread via coughs and sneezes.|
|Parainfluenza||Administered at 6-8 weeks of age, then every 3-4 weeks until 12-14 weeks old||1 dose||A booster may be necessary after 1 year, depending on manufacturer recommendations; revaccination every 3 years is considered protective.||Non-core dog vaccine.Parainfluenza infection (not the same as canine influenza) results in cough, fever. It may be associated with Bordetella infection.|
|Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough )||Depends on the vaccine type; 2 doses are usually needed for protection.||1 dose of the intranasal or oral product, or 2 doses of the injected product||Annual or 6-month boosters may be recommended for dogs in high-risk environments.||Non-core dog vaccine. Not usually a serious condition, although it can be dangerous in young puppies. It is usually seen after activities like boarding or showing.|
|Lyme disease||1 dose, administered as early as 9 weeks, with a second dose 2-4 weeks later||2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart||May be needed annually, prior to the start of tick season||Non-core dog vaccine.Generally recommended only for dogs with a high risk for exposure to Lyme disease-carrying ticks.|
|Leptospirosis||Last dose at 12 weeks||2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart||At least once yearly for dogs in high-risk areas||Non-core dog vaccine.Vaccination is generally restricted to established risk areas. Exposure to rodents and standing water can lead to a leptospirosis infection.|
|Canine influenza||First dose as early as 6-8 weeks; second dose 2-4 weeks later||2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart||Yearly|
Those cited as core vaccines are absolutely compulsory while the others might vary based on geographical location and other risk factors (like breed etc).
Diet forms the mainstay of any health regimen. After all, the adage “”you are what you eat” is impressively and elegantly profound despite its ubiquity. A lifelong processed diet that lacks in dietary fibre may leave your dog vulnerable to metabolic diseases. A large number of health risks are associated with eating foods high in HDL (High density lipoproteins) and simple carbohydrates. A growing problem across the world among dog owners is diabetes and its accompanying host of risks.
Vegetables, new research shows are just as medicinal to your dogs and should form an integral part of their diet right from their puppy days. As a responsible owner, you must invest time to ensure that healthy and regular eating habits are ingrained into your dog’s psyche right from a plastic and malleable age. Treats are a very useful tool in training and a source of great pleasure to dogs everywhere, but they don’t need to unhealthy. With a bit of creativity and a little bit of enterprise, you can substitute processed food that finds it’s way into your dog’s diet. And not to iron the obvious in but, SUGAR = EVIL!
Balkers may balk but believe it or not, gum and teeth disease kill over a third of all pet dogs, directly or indirectly. So brush your dog’s teeth every day to avoid an oral infection that could potentially spread and cause systemic disease to your dog.
Love and Care
Mental and physical wellbeing are inextricably linked to one another and are very important mutually, to maintain each other. A dog that’s well cared for, happy in its home and is surrounded by love, is one that lives longer.
Regular displays of affection go a long way in reassuring your dog and boosting its levels of emotional contentment. Dogs, just like us, have complicated endocrine-nervous systems that process a lot of what goes on outside and translates it into suitable emotional responses. It is up to you, to provide a wholesome, fun and safe life to your dog.
Obesity is as much a dog killer as it is a man killer. The dreaded decay of a sedentary lifestyle is one that no animal is built for. Regular exercise should a concern of great importance to you if you intend to do everything in your power to ensure a long , healthy life for your dog.
Exercise doesn’t always have to be long or intense. As far as regular levels of activity and playtime are maintained, your dog is already ahead of the curve.
Contentious topic though it is, research shows that neutered dogs tend to outlive their non-spayed peers significantly. We leave this one up to your discretion and judgement despite there being mounds of advantages to doing so.