Vet Extends A Dog’s Lifespan For Free!

So, I have a confession. My dog, Henry just went to the vet for his semi-annual check-up. He got a glowing review. But I did take the chance to pick his vet’s brain clean. Well, I should say he was more than generous to share his information. My question to my vet was “What is the #1 vet-approved action a dog owner can take to help their dog’s health and their pocketbook?” The answer may surprise you. Today, I’ll reveal how my vet extends a dog’s lifespan for free.

*Updated: March 13, 2024

a dog mom kisses her white dog as she learns how simple daily activities extends a dog's lifespan
disclaimer note
Budget tip:
Having a healthy dog means that your dog is avoiding other medical issues, which can be very pricey. Thus, a healthy dog is a happy dog and a very budget-friendly dog. That’s a huge WIN-WIN!

You may have heard about a study (Dog Aging Project) regarding a drug to extend the life of dogs. While this is a promising study, it’s yet to be approved by the FDA. Furthermore, it was only focused on large dogs. So, if you have a small or medium-sized dog, this drug may not be applicable when it is approved.

Thus, my thought is always, what can I do now to help my dog? In other words, “How can I lengthen my dog’s life and keep him healthy?” That notion is the premise behind this article and question to my vet.

What is the #1 action a dog owner can do to prolong their dog’s life?

Having a fit dog is the answer. Surprised? The reason why? When a dog gets out of shape, much like humans, they become vulnerable to health issues like:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Digestion issues
  • Aggression
  • Depression

Of course, there are some breeds that are predisposed to health issues. For example, large dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia. However, by keeping a large dog fit and not overweight, you minimize the amount of weight joints must move. That’s a very good thing and will definitely help!

How do I know if my dog is overweight?

I asked my vet this specific question. Here’s how he explained it. You’ll want to run your hands along your dog’s midsection. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs and there should be an indentation where the ribs stop. Naturally, you don’t want to see your dog’s ribs from a standing position. That would be an underfed dog.

On the other hand, you don’t want to have difficulty feeling your dog’s ribs or feel a round sausage when the ribs stop. That would be an overweight dog.

Do you know you can save a lot of money, just by feeding the right amount of dog food? In this article, I break out the numbers, which are surprising.

Are you still confused if your dog is overweight? Then simply ask your vet, groomer, dog walker, or even your dog trainer. They should all be able to easily tell you if your dog is overweight or not.

How do I get my dog fit?

I also asked my vet this question. Although, I did have a proud dog mom moment when he said Henry was a perfect weight at 13.6 pounds. However, his answer was also surprisingly simple:

  • Don’t overfeed your dog
  • Be mindful of treats
  • Know what you’re feeding your dog
  • Exercise your dog with walking, running, hiking, or toy activities
One of my activities to extends a dog's lifespan for Henry is hiking. He LOVES it!
Henry loves staying fit by hiking.

A simple homemade dog treat not only is healthier for your pup but saves you a lot of money. I show you how in this article.

Worried your dog isn’t getting enough exercise because he doesn’t like dog toys? In this article, I share what Henry loves instead of dog toys.

What else can a dog parent do to help extend the life of their dog on a budget?

Yep, I asked this question as well. Again the answer may surprise you.

1. An engaged mind is a healthy mind!

First, Henry’s vet said to keep your dog’s mind engaged. Interestingly he said this can be done simply by allowing your dog to stop and sniff while roaming around outside. This simple action actually engages his/her mind. Although you can also include things such as:

  • Engagement activities
  • Puzzle games (This one is cool! It’s a LARGE snuffle mat for slow feeding and engagement.)
  • Different walking areas

Want to learn simple free dog engagement activities? In this article, I share the mind games Henry loves.

2. Being proactive is key!

Secondly, Henry’s vet said to be proactive with vet care. Never let something go or fester until it’s a major issue. Often when it’s at that stage, there aren’t many options. Thus, preventative care is a money saver and definitely can prolong a pup’s life.

Curious how preventative dog care can save you money? In this article, I break it all down for you.

3. Know your food!

Last, Henry’s vet stressed to always look at what you feed your dog. Some folks will want to feed a diet similar to a human diet. However, dogs’ systems don’t function like humans. That means always making sure there’s some kind of grain in your dog’s food along with protein. For example, the grain could be rice, and the protein turkey or salmon. Moreover, he noted that a grain-free diet may work for humans, but there’s no evidence that it’s a good thing for a dog’s system.

In fact, Henry’s vet further stressed that studies have shown grain-free diets are not good for dogs. Specifically, these studies have shown that grain-free diets can lead to various health issues including heart failure.

How much can I really save by having a fit dog?

No, I didn’t ask my vet this question. But it is a fun question. For a moment consider the cost of the following potential dog illnesses:

Digestive issues$200 – 8000
Aggression$100 – 6000

Related articles:

Summary of Vet Extends A Dog’s Lifespan for Free!

I have to admit that I’m always a bit nervous when I take Henry to the vet. However, he received a glowing report of good health. So, that gave me a chance to reflect and ask his vet what dog parents, in general, could do to help prolong their pup’s lives on a tight budget. I was so pleased when he said to have a fit dog just like Henry. Then he went on to explain that keeping your dog engaged, being proactive, and knowing what you feed your pup is also key. However, he said with a rather large smile, that I was doing all of these things very well. Call me a proud dog mom!

a dog owner hugs a Husky puppy after learning tricks extends a dog's lifespan

Did you know that the simple act of having a fit dog is key to having a healthy dog? Or that it can prolong your dog’s life?

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

8 thoughts on “Vet Extends A Dog’s Lifespan For Free!”

  1. When you see it written down you think ‘Yeah, its obvious isn’t it” but you don’t think so at the time! A fit dog goes for walks, is happy and healthy and well fed.

    Thank you for an important post tht reminds us that not everything costs a lot of money to do!

    • You are absolutely correct, Marjorie. We don’t have to spend money to make a huge impact on our furry friends health and well being. The simple things really do matter.
      I greatly appreciate your continued support and encouragement. Thank you!

  2. Congrats on all the kudos from your Vet you are crushing it as a Dog Mom! This is all great advice, I try to do all these things with my Dogs too. I’m struggling right now with my Husky’s cognition. Trying new things. I have of that new study, I’m looking forward to the results as time goes on

    • I’m thinking of you as you deal with Icy’s cognition issues. I’m sure you’ll find an activity that will resonate with her.

      I’m interested to see the long term effects of this new study as well. It will definitely be one to watch.

      Thank you for your continued support. I really appreciate it!

  3. I’m so thrilled to hear of Henry’s healthy vet visit! That is always music to a pet mom’s ears! But I’m not surprised as Henry has a wonderful dog mom!

    It’s always mind-boggling to me on when folks skip healthy vet visit check-ups. I was always proactive and had my FiveSibes go to the vet (just like us) for healthy check-ups/physicals each year – twice a year with Gibson as we needed to keep track of his levels since he was on medications for epilepsy). I understand some folks may say it’s expensive, but it’s more expensive and can cause possible harm to our beloved dogs if we don’t. And as you stated, being fit – body and mind – is so important. In just reviewing your cost savings chart, it really is amazing how much one can save in dollars by being proactive.

    My Huskies loved those puzzle games! While it looked like they had fun “playing” a game, I know they were just very treat motivated! But boy, those puzzles were great especially on rainy days when they were in more than out.

    Great article, Terri! Sharing for sure!

    • Awe, thank you, Dorothy! Don’t we all strive to be great pet parents. It’s just nice to get validation.

      You know it blows my mind as well when folks will skip doing the simple things for there pets and dogs, like annual check-ups. I have a friend who will gamble and spend money on herself, yet trying to get her to do the right thing for her pup’s health is something else. Crazy!

      Those puzzle games can be great for the fur kids. I discovered Henry responds best to interactive games with me. Toys of any kind just aren’t his “thing”. But I do engage his mind.

      I really appreciate your continued support and encouragement. I greatly appreciate it!

  4. Owning a dog can be costly, and extending their lifespan can help alleviate some of these financial burdens by reducing the frequency of vet visits, medications, and other expenses associated with aging and illness.


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