10 min read

Five Ways To Make Your Dog Live Forever (Almost)

Few things upset me more than the nightmarish thought of my dog dying.

He's the only one I've got and he means the world to me. He wakes me up in the morning and we sleep in the same bed at night. He hates it when I leave the house without him but loves it when I come home. His head is in my lap right now, making it hard to type.

His name is Kody. He's my best friend:

Unfortunately, like every dog owner, I know that the odds are pretty good that I'm going to have to let him go at some point. He's only 5 years old right now. But I'm only 32. The sad odds say that he'll die during my lifetime.

So every minute I get to spend with him is precious to me.

You probably feel the same way about your dog.

And, if you do, then what I'm about to tell you might shock you:

There is a condition which is deadlier for dogs than a lifetime of smoking is for humans. It has been proven to cut their lives short by about 14 percent, the equivalent of more than a decade of your life.

Fortunately, the condition is completely avoidable.

Unfortunately, more than half of the dogs in America still suffer from it. In other words, statistically-speaking, your dog is already affected.

Think about that for a second. We all love our dogs and want them to live as long as possible, but more than half of them (more than 35 million animals in all!) are being exposed to a danger deadlier than smoking. Every day.

Amazing, right?

So what is this silent scourge of the American pet population?

Obesity.

Photo via Obie Dog Journey.

Other animal welfare issues may tug at our heart-strings more violently. Others may receive more news coverage. And others may be more fashionable. But when you consider that the canine obesity epidemic slashes millions of years off the lives of America's pet dogs every year, it's hard to argue that any other issue is more significant.

Well, I'm trying to do something about it. Three years ago I quit my job and founded a company devoted to ending the epidemic. We're called Varsity Pets. It's our mission to raise awareness about the canine obesity epidemic and to create the products and services that busy dog owners need to save their dogs. You can learn more about the exciting new work we're doing by visiting us here or by watching this short video:

Obesity is deadlier for a dog than a lifetime of smoking is for a human. But more than half the dogs in America are overweight. Will you help us stop the epidemic?

- Now, while canine obesity is one of the most significant animal welfare crises in the United States today, it's one that dog owners like us are uniquely positioned to stop. As caretakers and surrogate decision-makers for our pets, we all have the power to save them from obesity. And while more than half the dogs in the country are suffering every day, it's never too late to make the changes that can save their lives.

In that spirit, here are five simple tips that can help you change your dog's life today:

1. Get Yourself Fit First. Exercise is a great way to manage canine obesity. But how can you take your dog for a jog if you can hardly get off the couch? More than one-third of the people in America are clinically obese. If you're one of them, then help yourself first -- it will improve your ability to help your dog later.

2. Bridge the "Fat Gap." According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 90 percent of dog owners believe that their dogs are already a healthy weight. But almost half of them are wrong. Use a canine body condition scoring chart to quickly and accurately determine whether your dog has fallen into the "fat gap."

3. Cut Out the Treats. There's a reason our dogs love "treats" -- they're deliberately jam-packed with sweeteners and other fattening ingredients. Instead of treats, reward your dog with affection, play-time, or nutritious, low-calorie snacks like bite-sized vegetables.

4. Feed Less. Most dog food manufacturers aren't required to tell you the precise calorie content of their foods. As a result, millions of dog owners around the country over-feed their pets. Instead of relying on profit-motivated corporations to tell you how much food your dog really needs, use a reliable canine calorie calculator to figure it out for yourself in a matter of minutes.

5. Turn Off Your Devices and Go Outside. According to a recent study, Americans today spend more than 5 hours a day online and more than 4 hours a day watching television. That's more than 9 of your waking hours every day ignoring your dog! Un-plug and go for a short walk with your dog once a day. You'll both be better off for it.

-- Now, these tips are obviously just a start. Managing canine obesity involves self-education and on-going work, but it's work that any dog owner is more than capable of easily performing. And, if we're all willing to do the work, then we can stop the canine obesity epidemic once and for all. It's up to us.

Does that mean that we're all under a bit of pressure? Yup. But the reward is most certainly worth it -- we can ensure that every dog, especially yours, lives forever (almost).