Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

How long will Wyatt live?

Hi! I'm Michele Welton and I'm happy to talk with you about how long your dog Wyatt might live. I have lots to tell you, so.....

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Most Alaskan Malamutes live 10-12 years.

However, Wyatt might live longer than that....or he might not live that long....depending on other factors in his life. Factors such as diet, vaccinations, exercise, and daily care, all of which can affect how long Wyatt lives.

  • Let's talk first about the positive factors in Wyatt's life – you'll want to keep doing these things.
  • Then the negative factors – you'll want to change these things, if possible.
  • Finally, I'll tell you what you can do to make Wyatt as healthy and long-lived as possible.

Positive factors in Wyatt's life

Wyatt's veterinarian offers both conventional and alternative treatments. A vet with a wide range of treatment options can choose the gentlest and safest treatment that will do the job with the fewest side effects.

You don't give Wyatt any chocolate, raisins, or grapes. Good. It's a shame that dogs can't eat these foods, but unfortunately they can cause organ failure in dogs.

Wyatt is not overweight. This is a big plus! Extra weight (even a little) makes your dog's heart work harder to pump blood, makes his lungs work harder to push breaths in and out, and puts more stress on his joints – all of which lead to debilitating diseases that shorten life.

Wyatt is not neutered. Unneutered males are less likely to develop a deadly cancer called hemangiosarcoma, compared to neutered males. Reproductive hormones seem to offer some protection against this particular cancer. Also, unneutered dogs are less likely to become obese, which is associated with health problems that can shorten life. However, there are also some RISKS when a male dog isn't neutered – let's talk about those risks now.

Negative factors that could shorten Wyatt's life

Wyatt is not neutered. We just talked about the benefits of Wyatt not being neutered, but there are also some negatives.

  • Unneutered males can develop testicular tumors, anal tumors, or anal fistulas.
  • Unneutered males are more likely to act aggressively and engage in dog fights, which could result in the dog being put to sleep.
  • Unneutered males may pursue females in heat, which could result in them getting hit by a car.

A kibble or canned diet is associated with health risks. Unfortunately, processed food can cause a number of chronic health problems that could shorten Wyatt's life. [read more]

Yearly booster shots are associated with health risks. This might come as a surprise to you, because you thought you were doing the right thing by getting Wyatt's shots every year. However, veterinary immunologists tell us that yearly booster shots are not only unnecessary, but also damaging to your dog's health. [read more]

Wyatt is exposed to ticks. These tenacious arachnids (they belong to the spider family) insert their head under your dog's skin and gorge themselves on his blood. Even worse, some ticks in some areas of the country carry Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can cause chronic health problems that shorten life.

Wyatt is chewing on some risky toys. Unfortunately, some toys sold at pet stores can be dangerous, including rawhide, pig ears, cow hooves, and "ingestible" chews such as cornstarch bones. Any of these toys can lodge in your dog's throat or obstruct his stomach or intestines, causing choking or suffocation, or requiring emergency surgery.

Jogging or running beside a bike is not the safest exercise for dogs. These activities, especially in a young dog or when done on a hard surface, can damage a dog's bones and joints, leading to debilitating arthritis and a shortened lifespan.

Being outside without a leash or fence is risky. Especially since you've said that Wyatt doesn't always come when called. All it takes is one squirrel running by and your dog could end up under the wheels of a car. Emergency veterinarians tell us that one of the most common things grief-stricken owners say is, "But he never ran into the street before.... "

Wyatt is not safely secured when riding in your car. In an accident, a loose dog becomes a deadly projectile hurtling through the car and striking the driver or passengers, or smashing into the windshield or being flung through a shattered window into traffic. Just as your child should be secured inside a vehicle, so too should your beloved dog.

Wyatt is at risk when he is outside unattended. Unwatched dogs can get into trouble by escaping from their yard or by eating things they shouldn't – sticks and stones and strings that can obstruct their digestive tract – or toxic plants or dead animals. For maximum safety, you don't want to leave your dog outside unless you're watching him.

Health problems could shorten Wyatt's life. Hip dysplasia.... elbow dysplasia.... epilepsy.... heart diseases.... digestive diseases.... kidney diseases.... neurological diseases.... autoimmune diseases.... hereditary cancers.... any of these could shorten Wyatt's life. [read more]

What you can do to make Wyatt as healthy and long-lived as possible

  • Consider changing the dry kibble or canned food you're currently feeding to one of the three dog food diets I recommend in my dog care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
  • Stop yearly booster shots. If Wyatt received at least one vaccination after the age of 14-16 weeks (after his maternal antibodies have worn off), immunologists say he does not need yearly booster shots. But does he need ANY booster shots during his life? Some owners consider their dog immunized for life. Some owners choose to give boosters every 3-5 years. And some owners choose to do regular blood tests that actually measure their dog's immunity levels, before deciding whether to do a booster or not.
  • Be sure heartworm preventative truly isn't needed in your area. Here's a map showing heartworm incidence throughout the U.S. If your vet says preventive medication isn't needed in your area, you might want to call a second vet and ask their opinion. Just to be sure.
  • Protect Wyatt from ticks. There are tick preventatives I recommend and some I don't. If a tick does attach to your dog, you must remove it within 24-36 hours. That's how long it takes for disease-causing microorganisms to wiggle down to the tick's salivary glands and get injected into your dog's bloodstream.
  • Replace rawhide, pig ears, cow hooves, or ingestible chews with safer toys.
  • Keep Wyatt on the slender side. Feed a moderate amount of food twice a day and provide varied forms of exercise to keep Wyatt fit and trim throughout his life. But don't take Wyatt jogging or bicycling with you. As I explained, that's not healthy for his joints.
  • Keep Wyatt on a leash or within a fence. Then his life won't be ended prematurely by a speeding car or an attack by another loose dog.
  • Make sure Wyatt is safely secured for car rides. He should ride in a carrier in the back seat, or buckled into the back seat with a canine harness and seatbelt – or ideally, inside a carrier that's buckled into the back seat. Dogs should never ride in the front seat, where they're vulnerable to an exploding air bag.
  • Minimize the times when Wyatt is outside unattended.
  • Teach Wyatt to come when called – all the time. "Come" is one of the three essential commands that, for safety's sake, every dog must obey. The other two essential commands are "Stay" and "No." If Wyatt doesn't obey these three commands with 100% reliability, my dog training book can show you how to make sure he does.
  • Find out how how long Wyatt's relatives lived and what health issues they had. If possible, keep tabs on the health history of your dog's parents, grandparents, and siblings. Wyatt may have inherited the same health problems, and knowing what to watch for, you and your vet will be ready to treat those problems earlier, which may make a big difference.
  • Consider having Wyatt neutered. Re-read the positive factors and negative factors above. Very important....there's a right age and a wrong age to neuter. Reproductive hormones help your dog's bones and organs to develop properly. Neutering too early removes those essential hormones before they've had time to do their work, which would leave Wyatt more vulnerable to bone and joint diseases. [read more]
  • Prevent accidents. A tragic accident could end Wyatt's life today or tomorrow. That's how fast accidents happen. To prevent accidents, you need to manage Wyatt's environment by viewing your home and yard through a dog's eyes and changing anything that might be unsafe for him.

So....how long will Wyatt live?

Most Alaskan Malamutes live 10-12 years. But as I said at the beginning of this report, Wyatt might live longer than that....or he might not live that long.

You may have been hoping for a more exact number. You've probably taken lifespan quizzes for people where you discovered that your life expectancy is 81.4 years or some such.

Let me explain why that kind of precise prediction isn't possible for dogs.

Life expectancy quizzes for humans are based on, "actuarial tables" (also called mortality tables) have been assembled by government health agencies, medical research centers, and insurance companies, based on tons of data gathered for decades.

Based on all this data, complex mathematical models can project how many years are taken off the average human life by smoking or obesity or high blood pressure, or how many years are added to the average human life by regular exercise or eating vegetables or having long-lived parents.

Unfortunately, no such data exists for dogs. There are no actuarial tables or mathematical models that can predict exactly how many months or years are added or taken away from the baseline age that is typical for your dog's breed.

But we DO know which factors make a difference

Drawing on the research and personal experiences of veterinarians, veterinary immunologists, and other dog experts....plus what we've learned about healthy (and unhealthy) lifestyles in people....plus what our own common sense tells us, we DO know which factors are most likely to affect whether your dog lives a healthier life or a less healthy one, a longer life or a shorter one.

Your dog's health and life expectancy depends, on large part, on what you feed him, how many vaccinations you allow him to get, what kinds of exercise you provide, which toys you allow him to play with, which vet you choose to treat him and which kinds of treatments he receives, whether you neuter him (or not) and how old he is when you do so, how successful you are at keeping him safe and preventing accidents, and all the other factors we talked about in this report.

In other words, how long Wyatt lives is largely up to you. Raise him in all the right ways.... provide all the right kinds of daily care.... and Wyatt will have his best chance of living a long and healthy life. My dog care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, provides step-by-step guidance for doing everything I recommend in this report.

Thank you for giving me the chance to talk with you about Wyatt!

All best, Michele Welton

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