Can Gut Health Affect A Dog’s Lifespan?

Nov 22, 2023

The only thing we’d change about our dogs is that we’d get to keep them with us longer. So, we’re always looking for how to keep them the healthiest we can. The connection between gut health and a dog’s lifespan is definitely there–and backed by science that we can use to help our dogs be their happiest and healthiest. Gut health affects a dog’s lifespan, so upping our dog’s gut health game is the key!

How Long Do Dogs Live in Human Years?

That’s always the question, isn’t it? It is often thought that one dog year equals seven human years, but the conversion from dog years to human years is more nuanced, with the first two years of a dog’s life equating to more than seven human years each. Afterward, each dog year equals approximately four to five human years, with variations based on size and breed.

Do Small Dog Breeds Live Longer than Large Dog Breeds?

Dogs of different sizes live different lifespansWho actually lives longer? Studies indicate that smaller dog breeds often enjoy longer lifespans. This is partly attributed to their slower aging process and lower susceptibility to certain age-related diseases. Smaller breeds have a genetic makeup that predisposes them to a longer life. Their slower growth rates and metabolism may also impact their gut microbiome positively, leading to a healthier life. On average, small dogs can live from about 10 to 15 years, with many even reaching up to 16 years or more.

How Long Do Medium-Size Dogs Live?

Medium-sized dogs have a varied lifespan, influenced by dietary choices and gut health. Medium-sized dogs generally have a lifespan that falls between small and large breeds. These dogs typically live around 10 to 14 years.

How Long Do Large and Giant Dog Breeds Live?

Larger breeds typically have a shorter lifespan, often due to the rapid aging process and susceptibility to certain diseases. Giant breeds often have the shortest lifespans among dogs. Their large size can contribute to various health issues, making gut health management through diet and supplements crucial. On average, large breeds tend to live about 8 to 12 years and giant breeds tend to live about 6-10 years.

Impact of Diet and Gut Health on Lifespan

A landmark study by Purina spanning 14 years demonstrated that dogs maintained in a lean body condition from puppyhood lived longer and healthier lives. The study found that on average, lean-fed dogs lived 1.8 years longer, which translates to about a 15% longer lifespan. These dogs also showed delayed onset of chronic diseases, greater insulin sensitivity, and better immune defense over time​​​​​​.

The Gut Microbiome’s Role in Health and Longevity In Dogs

The gut microbiome is made of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes, and is foundational to your dog’s health. It contributes to digestion, vitamin production, serotonin generation, gut lining protection, and immune system support. Basically, it rules your dog’s health. An imbalanced microbiome can lead to various health issues like itchy skin, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and bad breath​​, just to name a few.

So what factors affect your dog’s gut microbiome and, incidentally, their life expectancy? Disease, age, diet, and medications can cause long-term disruptions to the gut microbiome. Feeding a healthy diet is crucial to maintaining a balanced gut microbiome, which in turn supports the immune system and may help prevent common illnesses​​.

Molecular Interactions in the Gut: What’s Going On?

The gut microbiota undergoes significant changes throughout a dog’s life. These changes influence age-related processes and impact the gut microbiota and its related metabolic changes. Aging in dogs, like in humans, is determined by a lot of complex interactions with environmental factors and internal genetics, as well as with the gut microbiome, which plays a central role. Studies have shown variations in the microbiome composition and functional features related to aging, indicating a connection between gut health and longevity​​.

Cellular Oxidative Stress and Gut Health

When your dog’s microbiome is plagued with cellular oxidative stress, it can react pretty quickly. This leads to inflammation, infections, obesity, and potential cancers. But what exactly IS cellular oxidative stress in dogs? It’s a physiological condition where there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body’s ability to detox these reactive products to repair the damage it caused. Whew, right? It’s a complicated process in your dog’s gut, actually. Reactive oxygen species, like free radicals, are normal byproducts of cellular metabolism but they can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA when their levels become too high.

When this happens, it contributes to aging and various diseases in dogs, similar to humans. It’s linked to inflammation, and degenerative diseases, and can make other health conditions worse. Your dog’s body has natural antioxidant mechanisms to counteract this oxidative stress, but this can be compromised if their gut health isn’t in the best shape.

In dogs, oxidative stress can be influenced by various factors, including environmental pollutants, dietary deficiencies, or a lack of exercise. Managing oxidative stress often involves addressing these contributing factors, possibly through improved diet, exercise, and in some cases, antioxidant supplements. Balancing the gut microbiome with certain nutrients and supplements can counteract this stress, though! Foods or supplements that activate the body’s Nrf-2 pathway, such as turmeric and green tea, are great to help maintain a healthy gut microbiome​​.

Gut-Brain Axis and Emotional Health

The gut-brain axis also plays a role in regulating emotions like stress, depression, anxiety, and aggression in dogs. This indicates that gut health impacts physical well-being and emotional health, which can influence a dog’s overall quality of life and potentially its lifespan​​.

How to Extend Your Dog’s Life

Extend your dog’s life by focusing on gut health. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and mental stimulation are key. Ingredients like Miscanthus Grass and Pumpkin in their diet can support gut health.

  • Tips for Choosing High-Quality Dog Food: Opt for enriched dog food that is nutrient-dense and will feed your dog’s microbiome. Look at labels and check out contents; sometimes the priciest, name-brands could be better in ingredient composition.
  • Keep Your Dog at a Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for longevity. Obesity can lead to gut dysbiosis, which negatively impacts lifespan. When your dog is heavier than they should be, they’re taxing their body harder than it should be. This can shorten your dog’s life expectancy but can be managed with some planning and commitment.
  • Provide Mental Enrichment and Stimulation: Mental health is as important as physical health. A stimulated mind can positively impact gut health and overall well-being. Dogs who have healthy mental frames of mind are less depressed and less likely to become lethargic and overweight as a result.
  • Dental Care: Good dental care is vital for gut and overall health. Poor dental health can lead to harmful bacteria entering the gut system, impacting its balance. The oral microbiome is important and is important in ensuring your dog’s gut microbiome stays healthy too. Select dental care products that reduce plaque and tartar build-up and encourage good gut health as well. Healthy teeth contribute to a healthier gut microbiome.

Extending a dog’s lifespan through nutritional and gut health improvement involves a few different things, but the first and most important is focusing on the diet and supplements they have. Their overall lifestyle is important, but research continues to suggest that gut health is crucial for longevity, as it influences immune function, nutrient absorption, and overall well-being. We already know that the oral microbiome is super important to their gut and overall health, and that’s why we wanted to incorporate ingredients that mattered in our Charming Chompers Chews. Not only are they a ‘treat’ your dog will love and will help keep their breath fresh and teeth cleaner, but they also contribute to your dog’s better gut health, too! The ingredients we chose to include may not be your typical dental chew ingredients, but we’re focusing on overall health and vitality with Charming Chompers ingredients!

  • Miscanthus Grass: This eco-friendly and sustainable grass is a good source of fiber, which aids in digestive health by promoting regular bowel movements and supporting a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Sweet Potato: Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, sweet potatoes are beneficial for gut health. They provide dietary fiber, which helps to maintain a healthy digestive system.
  • Pumpkin: Pumpkin is another excellent source of fiber. It can help regulate a dog’s digestive system, alleviate diarrhea and constipation, and contribute to overall gut health.
  • Inulin: This prebiotic fiber found in many plants feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut. It helps improve bowel function and enhances the absorption of nutrients.
  • Yogurt: A good source of probiotics, yogurt helps balance the gut microbiome, supporting healthy digestion and immune function.
  • Lactobacillus Product: This probiotic supplement can aid in maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria, essential for optimal nutrient absorption and immune system support.
  • Alfalfa Leaf Concentrate: Rich in vitamins and minerals, alfalfa can support digestive health and provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Parsley: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, parsley can also help freshen a dog’s breath and support kidney health.
  • Natural Mint Flavor: While primarily used for breath freshening, mint can also have mild soothing effects on the stomach and intestines.
  • Green Tea Extract: Contains antioxidants that may reduce inflammation and promote healthy aging.
  • Blueberries: High in antioxidants and fiber, blueberries support gut health and can help reduce oxidative stress.
  • Rosemary: This herb has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can support digestive health and overall well-being.
  • Coconut Oil: Contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that can aid in digestion, improve coat health, and potentially boost cognitive function in older dogs.

The Ultimate Goal: Longer-Living Dogs

The science is clear–gut health is intricately linked to a dog’s overall health, well-being, and lifespan. A balanced gut microbiome supports physical health and emotional well-being, influencing everything from immune function to behavior. Ensuring that dogs receive a nutritious diet and appropriate care can significantly contribute to a longer, healthier life–just what we all want for our best friends!

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