In the words of Roger Caras, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” There is just no replacement for a loving dog at your feet! These animals are our best friends, and we have an obligation to help them stay well. One way to do this is to know what to expect from lifespan, common dog diseases and how to keep your dog in optimal health.

Average Lifespan of a Dog
The average lifespan of a dog is greatly dictated by the dog’s size. Nearly 40 percent of small dog breeds live over 10 years (dogs under 30 pounds live the longest), while only 13 percent of giant dog breeds live a decade or more. A middle-sized, 50-pound dog will live an average of 10-12 years, while giant dog breeds usually live six to eight years.

While size matters, it’s not the only factor: dogs that are not purebred also have an advantage, as they tend to be less likely to develop health issues like cancer.

Common Diseases in Dogs
Courtesy of Pet Premium, here are certain canine diseases that are much more common than others.

Dental Disease
Nearly 75 percent of dogs over the age of three have dental issues, making periodontal disease the most common dog disease of present day. Dental disease can become severe when it causes abscesses, though this usually happens in the later stage of a dog’s life. Smaller dogs and toy breeds are much more likely to develop periodontal disease than their larger counterparts. This often results in dogs needing their teeth pulled as they age.
 
Ear Infections
Infections that attack the outer ear canal are the second-most-common dog-related disease. Usually, allergies are the underlying cause. Breeds with long ears or large ears, such as basset hounds, beagles and retrievers, are more prone to ear infections than others.

Intestinal Parasites
Dogs of all ages are susceptible to intestinal parasites. The most common parasites are heartworm, hookworm, tapeworm and roundworm. Treatment of parasites usually involves oral medications. Left untreated, they can do damage to the digestive organs.

Heartworm
Heartworm disease involves both bad and good news. It’s difficult to cure but easy to prevent. Heartworm prevention can prolong your dog’s health and save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Heartworm is more common in the South, but it is still prevalent in all 50 states. Even dogs who spend most of their time indoors can contract it through mosquitoes that invade the home.

Diabetes
Just like with humans, diabetes in canines seems to be reaching pandemic proportions. Reported cases have gone up 32 percent in recent years. Diabetes happens in dogs that are obese or overweight and is more prevalent in small dogs. Once a dog has diabetes, it generally must be on insulin therapy for life.

Keeping Your Dog Healthy
Dogs know very little about staying healthy: though most love exercise, many would eat themselves to death if given the chance. Thus, it is up to their owners to help them maintain health.

According to the American Kennel Club, the manners in which this is done include taking your dog to the vet for regular checkups; getting your dog immunized against common ailments; feeding your dog a nutritiously balanced diet; maintaining your dog’s weight; having your dog spayed or neutered; taking your dog for walks; and keeping them groomed.

Of course, dogs also need lots of attention and affection. It’s only fair that we give to them what they give to us: a world of unconditional love!

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