Shocking data reveals dogs are dying over 10% sooner than they did 10 years ago. What is going on!
This is a serious issue. With such advancements in veterinary & medical care, why are our dogs’ lifespans shorter than they used to be? I’ll delve into the 3 major reasons we are observing this worrying trend Before we begin, let’s look at the report that first brought this finding to attention.
The Kennel Club Report
I have been training dogs for a long time and have been involved with dogs as an owner for practically my entire life. I have had the privilege of owning a bunch of lovely canines and remember clearly that most of them passed away from old age; no specific disease but rather a deterioration of everything due to a life well lived.
Things seemed to have changed. Dogs now appear to die of cancer, liver and kidney disease, heart failure, and various other ailments at a higher rate than before.
The Kennel Club, The UK’s largest organisation dedicated to the welfare of dogs,
started the largest survey of its kind in 2014 leading to the release of dog’s lifespan information towards the end of 2016.
This report was particularly expansive, covering a whopping 191 breeds and 48,891 dogs. Bear in mind, these dogs were all pedigree breeds. It’s also worth noting that due to the intense level of health screening provided by owners of pedigree breeds, the stats for mongrels and crosses may in fact be worse.
‘The average lifespan of a dog has been reduced from 11 years to 10 years in just a decade’.
This seems the exact opposite of what we are told to believe. With advances in veterinary medicine, diets and preventative care how has something gone this seriously wrong?
Let’s look at the areas that I believe may have had a seriously detrimental effect on the lifespan of our dogs.
1 Preventative Healthcare
This is a contentious topic so be warned!
Annual vaccinations are still promoted by the veterinary community full force, despite the fact that evidence has shown them to be causing serious complications in some breeds of dog. In general, these vaccines are touted to create antibodies that last for life so why are we still vaccinating our dogs annually?
It may surprise some people that the official Duration of Immunities (DOIs) actually changed in 2010.
The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) BVA British Veterinary Association and the Vaccine Manufacturers recommended that all core vaccines should be administered no more than every 3 to 4 years.
Even with these clear guidelines, there are still numerous vets who ignore these points not only from the vaccine producer but from official veterinary bodies as well.
So, why did the vaccine manufacturers suddenly change their DOIs? The answer is straight forward. They saw the evidence that over-vaccination was causing damage to cats and dogs are were forced, in light of this evidence, to change their official statements.
As an example of this issue; there is a vaccine name Lepto4 that is supposed to be given annually. Yet there is a growing concern and demands for it to be withdrawn. Hundreds of dogs across Britain are dying or suffering severe allergic reactions after being treated with this vaccine that was meant to protect them against what is, in many cases, is a mild bacterial infection.
Worse still, there are 98 strains of Leptospirosis and the Lepto4 vaccine only covers four of them – some may argue, simply not worth the risk.
Many vets appear to be in denial over the use of this controversial vaccine. In the last two years, regulators have received over 2,000 reports of dogs having suspected adverse or fatal reactions; this is likely to be a major underreporting as many owners may not be aware of the cause of their dogs sudden illness/death and many vets do not report adverse reactions of vaccines.
2 Dog Food
Adverts all over the TV and internet and social media tell us just how good modern dog food is and how it is helping our dogs to live longer and healthier lives. The Kennel Clubs report, although not directly implementing dog food, suggests this simply isn’t the case as life spans are decreasing!
What we feed our dogs is critical to their well-being and longevity and the multi-billion-pound pet food industry is built on some dangerous half-truths. UK labelling for dog food falls well behind the standards set by the US who have far more information on their food labelling.
In America, the information on packets of pet food is far more informative than the same dog food sold in the UK – why the pet food standard agencies think this is acceptable is unclear as it is pulling the wool over consumers eyes if they don’t know what is exactly in the products they are buying.
Neutering is the generic word for spaying and castration. Over the years advice and clever marketing have convinced the general public that these invasive and painful operations are necessary for the long-term health of your dog. This isn’t true.
I believe that neutering can have a detrimental effect on the lifespan of dogs and may be one of the biggest culprits as to why lifespans are reducing across the board. There is a large body of evidence that suggests that neutering is not the ‘cure-all’ for all problem behaviour, in fact, the opposite is probably true especially when it comes to paediatric neutering; neutering before physical maturity.
Recent research has laid a number of cancers and serious long-term illnesses at the door of paediatric neutering. The endocrine system can be badly compromised as the gonads are major sites of production for a range of steroid hormones which have myriad roles in the body and include the hormones testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone. Specific diseases such as Cushing’s disease and thyroid dysfunction are increased dramatically in cases of neutering.
We must change the widespread belief that neutering is the answer to all dogs behavioural and training problems and look at alternatives such as hysterectomy or vasectomy that does not interfere with the hormonal system that plays so many important roles.
Think very long and hard before having this procedure done.
The three areas above that I have highlighted, are in my opinion, responsible for some if not most of the reasons the lifespan of our pets is decreasing. Please seriously consider the points I have made and if you need to talk through decisions about your dog’s welfare, feel free to call me. Get these three right and hopefully, you will see your dog’s living to a healthy old age.