Thursday, 4 May 2017

Longevity for Pets

Countless studies are showing that certain foods, lifestyle factors and natural medicines are longevity-promoting for humans, so why would there be nothing for, say, your dog? As we live longer, it is totally valid to want the same thing for your pet. Movies like A Dog's Purpose may portray death as something that gives life meaning, but in reality it has a destructive effect on more than the life that was lost, and we do not necessarily "gain" anything from the experience.

Spontaneous photo of my dog because he had his tongue out <3
Rodney Habib, a vet passionate about pet nutrition, has something much more useful than a schmaltzy movie written to play with our emotions. In his TEDx Talk, Why Don't Dogs Live Forever?, he explains that the current situation is far from acceptable. He has learnt that in the 1970s, the average lifespan of a dog was 17. Now, it's 11. Why? Well, a dog's risk of diabetes is 900% higher now, obesity is up by 60% and dogs now have a higher risk of cancer than any other mammal. Only less than 10% of cancer cases are genetic, the rest is caused by dietary factors, toxin exposure, stress, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Here is an example: in a study of Scottish terriers, both with and without a type of bladder cancer, consumption of vegetables at least three times a week was associated with a 70% lower risk of developing this type of cancer. For green leafy vegetables, the risk reduction approached 90%; for yellow and orange vegetables, it was about 70%. Cruciferous vegetable consumption was not significantly associated with lower cancer rates. Other research at Purdue University showed a 90% reduction in bladder cancer risk when green leafy vegetables were added to a processed food diet three times each week. As Scottish terriers have a much greater risk of bladder cancer than other dogs, these study results could be even more significant, as they may have a strong genetic predisposition.

So far, the world's oldest dog was Maggie, who lived to be 30. She lived on a dairy farm and often walked/ran nine kilometres in a single day! Her diet included raw milk from grass-fed cows, and her owner did not mind much when she self-fasted some days. Imagine a world where this is normal; where dogs living well into their 20s or even 30s is what we expect, not something that is unusual enough to make the news. While I am not a vet, I have only studied health in humans, there are many people like Rodney Habib who are fighting to give our fur-children a longer and better life.

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