5 Natural Ways to Help Your Dog Live Longer

We all want our dogs to live long, healthy lives. But how often do we consider the simple ways we can offer them the best in health?

Below I will discuss what I consider the 5 essential ways to help our dogs live longer from a canine naturopathy perspective, and they’re more obvious than you may think.

Without much ado, the following ways to health focus on your dog’s immune system and wellbeing, minimizing the risk of toxins, and considering how we address illness and health conditions.

Optimal nutrition

It makes sense that optimal nutrition would lead to a strong immune system. We know this already, don’t we?

We are what we eat, and this applies to dogs as much as it does to humans.

The difference between us and our dogs is we’re responsible for us, and our dogs depend on us to be responsible. Quite often we’re not, unintentionally.

Commercial foods with their high grain content (or high non-grain starch content), preservatives, and other poor quality ingredients cannot provide optimal health for our dogs, no matter what we’re told by their marketing departments.

We need only look to nature to see what are the most appropriate foods for our dogs, combined with some of the simplest logic and simplest scientific facts.

If you find yourself trusting a pet food manufacturer based on “scientific evidence” rather than nature, ask yourself why such a manufacturer would sell grain-based diets for cats, because cats are factually obligate carnivores.

That should leave doubt in your mind. They may justify grain-based diets are fine for your dog as an alleged omnivore, yet how can they justify grain-based diets for cats?

Feeding your dog a biologically appropriate diet based around raw foods is one of the best ways you can support a healthy immune system. It’s very hard to dispute this now in 2024, as history has shown many supremely healthy raw fed dogs who have outlived their grain-fed counterparts.

Raw meaty bones, muscle meats, organ meats, combined with some vegetables and fruits (all preferably organic) can form the basis of a healthy diet for your dog.

A raw diet, formulated appropriately of course, will support your dog’s gut immunity, therefore governing the overall immune system. Or in short, greatly improving general health.

Antioxidants, minerals, fatty acids and other important nutrients are found in such a diet supporting strong immunity.

Raw meaty bones can have a positive impact on your dog’s immune system by helping to prevent gum disease.

Australian veterinarians Dr Tom Lonsdale and Dr Ian Billinghurst (inventor of the BARF diet) are strong advocates for raw meaty bones, knowing all too well how many dogs fed commercial products suffer ill health from periodontal disease.

Gum disease is often a side effect of unhealthy dental hygiene and causes a low level of inflammation and systemic bacterial load in the bloodstream. Less inflammation means  less burden on the immune system.

Arguably much worse on wet commercial mush (wet foods, canned, and ironically also BARF patties), not giving your dog something appropriate to chew on, such as a raw meaty bone, can leave their teeth rotting before they grow out of the puppy phase.

We know that nutrition is the cornerstone for health in every species, and when the immune system is well nourished and balanced, your dog will have a healthy immune response to infections and other immune-related conditions.

Reduce exposure to toxins

This may seem obvious, but our dogs are exposed to so many chemicals in their environment that can have a negative impact on their immune systems, and many of these can be well hidden.

Some of the most problematic toxins come from the use of chemical parasite treatments including spot on treatments and annual heartworm injections.

These contain heavy insecticides and other chemicals that act as neurotoxins which can have long term negative effects on your dog’s health and can even in some cases, or lead to death in certain dogs.

When it comes to “spot on” flea and tick treatments, we often believe we must use these on our pets continuously. But for what reason – to benefit our pets, or because this greatly increases the revenue of these companies?

Depending on where you live, and the risk of parasites, it may be better to only use such a treatment when necessary, or better yet opt for more natural remedies.

Other toxin exposure can come from poor quality diet and processed foods, tap water, household and lawn cleaning and other products, car exhaust fumes, medications and vaccinations and cigarette smoke.

Remember that your dog’s paw pads act like sponges and their bodies are much lower to the ground than ours, so therefore their exposure to many chemicals will be significantly greater than ours.

What cleaning chemicals do you use on your floors?

What chemicals are used on your garden, and what weedkillers are used at your local park?

By reducing and avoiding many of these products and chemicals as well as using natural alternatives, your dog’s immune system and overall health will be much improved.

Detoxification will also be important as part of this process and you may need to seek out an holistic animal practitioner to assist with this process.

When it comes to commercial dog foods, recalls from toxins or mold occur more often than we think. It’s not just manufacturing issues either – improper storage and transport conditions of dog food can cause mold and contamination, as can improper storage in our homes.

We often assume dry dog foods won’t spoil, but they do. How long does it take your dog to finish a bag of dog food?

Treat the cause of disease, not just the symptoms

Sadly we have ignored Mother Nature in her wisdom when it comes to the treatment of disease.

Can you recall the last time you took a pet to the veterinarian, or even visited your doctor, and were prescribed treatment?

Did the veterinarian, or doctor, discuss with you the potential cause of the illnesses itself, or simply provide medication?

Contrary to popular assumption, a veterinarian will rarely interrogate you to find out why your dog became sick, and it’s far more common you will be given a treatment plan or prescription dog food.

Are these a real fix, or a band-aid solution?

In an attempt to rid our dogs of acute diseases, we have actually created a plague of CHRONIC DISEASE PATTERNS including cancers.

Over-vaccinating and using medications which act as band-aid treatments (without focusing on the cause of the problem) has led to such patterns.

Don’t get me wrong, modern medicine has provided us with wonderful treatments that are life saving for many acute health situations facing our dogs.  But there are many times when medications are overused and are just not necessary, often being prescribed just in case, or as the cheaper or more profitable option than, say, a titre test.

This approach of treating merely the symptoms of disease goes against the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

By suppressing the disease in this way, it actually pushes it  deeper into the body and this can create a more serious chronic patterning, setting your dog on a path towards more ill health.

As well as treating merely symptoms, we all know that medications can have undesirable side effects.

By using a holistic approach to treating any disease, supporting the immune system’s natural mechanisms, and by focusing on the dog and treating the CAUSE rather than just the symptoms, a return to true health and vitality is much more likely. 

As a canine nutritionist I often find diet to be the cause (as mentioned above), with a key example being dogs suffering itchy skin or yeasty ears as a result of dietary sensitivities to inappropriate ingredients in a commercial dog food.

Despite this, many dog owners opt for all manner of treatments or expensive pre and probiotic supplements, yet do not fix the real issue by addressing diet as the root cause.


Opinions on whether to conventionally vaccinate your dog are becoming increasingly divided as we now know that over vaccinating can lead to a host of immune issues including autoimmune diseases (where the immune system turns on healthy tissues, attacking them), allergies, chronic  infections and weakened or ‘confused’  immune responses.

While I am not saying do not vaccinate, I believe it is important as dog owners that we are aware of the cons as well as the pros for vaccination.

When we vaccinate an animal, we target their immune system.

If you can imagine this vaccination is being delivered directly into the bloodstream, bypassing many of the immune system’s natural response mechanisms.

This direct targeting into the bloodstream causes the immune system to go into a panic state as it has not ‘had time’ to prepare for this invader.

Also remember most dogs will receive multiple vaccines at a time (usually 5).

Over time, this can often weaken the immune system, especially when vaccinated unnecessarily, and this may lead to more serious health issues. 

Annual vaccinations in particular are placing undue stress on our dog’s immune systems. Many vaccines are shown in dogs to give at least 7 years of immunity, which means annual vaccinations are simply not necessary.

A veterinarian worth their salt will titre test your dog to determine the effectiveness of a previous vaccine or their natural immunity towards disease, which often shows there is no need to over-vaccinate your dog.

Other vets, of course, will vaccinate your dog whether necessary or not. For you this may be the cheaper alternative than a titre test, but it’s not the healthiest option for your dog.

Reducing the number of vaccinations given not only assists the immune system but reduces further toxic load generally.

For these reasons, always talk to your vet regarding titre blood tests, and consider this money well spent if it prevents your dog being over-vaccinated.

If you have a dog who is experiencing ongoing immune problems, vaccinations are NOT recommended.

Homoeopathic nosodes may offer a safe alternative for those not wishing to continue with conventional vaccination, although as a pet owner you must decide for yourself if you’re comfortable taking the homeopathic route.

Vaccine detox –  Personally, I routinely use homoeopathic remedies to detoxify the body after annual and other vaccinations. While this does NOT stop the vaccine from being effective, it does help eliminate all the chemicals present within the vaccine and its carrier medium.

Healthy lifestyle

Vibrant health and a strong immune system in our dogs requires us to look at their health holistically.

As well as the four tips above to help your dog live longer, here are some other helpful immune boosting tips through regular exercise:

Did you know in the wild that your dog’s canine ancestors spent many hours each day exercising, either by long hunting trips, playing, running etc?

While our domestic canine friends no longer need to hunt for hours at a time, they do need regular exercise, including some ‘free play’ time where they get an opportunity to extend their limbs to include full range of motion.

Walking, playing games, swimming, free play…. there are lots of way to keep your pooch mobile.

Exercise has many health benefits, and this includes building a strong immune system.

Allowing your dog to have a ‘sniff’ walk – rather than taking your dog for a walk at your preferred pace, spend some time taking your dog out into areas where he or she can stop and sniff!! This is extremely calming for all dogs and is particularly helpful for very anxious dogs.

Even having an area in your yard where there are lots of things for your dog to sniff can be useful.

Plenty of fresh air, sunshine, as well as pure drinking water are all important too…. did you know that the fluoride alone found in drinking water contributes to the development of hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) as well as other health issues?

Dogs are social creatures and do not generally do well on their own. Stress of any kind places burden on the immune system and lowers its function.

Have you considered a companion for your dog?

We all know dogs are social animals and while an ‘only’ dog may consider his human family as the pack, having another dog (if possible) can alleviate stress in dogs that are left alone for long periods of time without their human members.

If having multiple dogs is not an option, consider maybe doggie day care or even a dog walker.

Stress of any kind places burden on the immune system and lowers its function.

By following these basic principles, you can make a positive impact on your dog’s immune system and their overall health and longevity!

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