Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dog Longevity Survey: How Important Is Diet for Longevity?

Hardly anybody doubts the important role nutrition plays in dog longevity and health.



66.67% of people who took my Longevity Survey checked diet as extremely important and 30.77% as important. Only 2.56% believe it is not important.


I don't know why this makes me think of one horrible joke about a Scotsman who comes into a bar, clearly very angry. He orders a stiff drink and the bartender asks him why is he so upset. "For months I was teaching my horse to go without food," the Scotsman replies. "And now, when he almost got it, he just died, dumbass horse."

Naturally, nutrition is needed to sustain life. And, we learned in the previous article, the amount makes a huge difference.

So, in general, it is better to feed our dogs a little less rather than a little more. But what about the food itself?


I think that no other subject creates a bigger divide among dog lovers, advocates, and veterinarians than what is the ideal diet for our dogs. There is a real war going on out there and it's about dog food. You can just try to show up in a raw feeders group and mention the word kibble, or in a "traditional" group and mention the word raw. You shall be crucified.

There is kibble on one end of the spectrum, and raw food on the other, and several options in between.


And that's just about how the food is or isn't processed. Then there is what it should or should not consist of. And the argument about nutrients versus ingredients. All that keeping environmental and like issues aside completely.

The daunting question everybody is arguing about is what is the best diet for their dog(s).


And the answer is far from straightforward. Let's take a look at the diets of the world's longest living dogs.



Their diets ranged from fresh, raw food diet, fresh whole food vegan diet, home-cooked foods, boiled leftovers, and kibble.

Yes, one of the longest living dogs, Max, who made it to an age of 29 years and 282 days was fed nothing but kibble. So ...

... life is complex and however important diet is, it is only a part of the equation.


There are further variables not only between the types of foods but also within each group. There are differences between dogs. There are genetics, environment, lifestyle ... all these things are pieces of the puzzle.

What is my take on it?


There are a couple of things I believe in and how they can best work together depends on an individual dog.

Jasmine started out on kibble but was transitioned to home-cooked diet after she was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Carefully picked, fresh ingredients that agreed with her system went a long way in successfully managing her condition. Carefully considered supplements and herbs assisted with managing other conditions she was battling with.

JD was a kibble dog. We selected kibble for him carefully, paying attention to ingredients, nutritional value, and processing. He was meant to eat kibble and did best on it.

Cookie is fed raw. It was kind of her decision when she started supplementing her diet with freshly caught small rodents. She does great on it.

What things I consider contribute to making a diet better?



  • complete and balanced
  • whole foods
  • species-appropriate ingredients (for dogs that means mostly animal source with some veggies)
  • quality ingredients (as good as one can afford; this would mean organic, non-GMO ...)


I do believe that the less processing the better as important nutrients get destroyed by processing and need to be added back. But as you can see above, the longest-living dogs had all different kinds of diets which shows that there is no one formula that fits all.

What do you think? Is there a diet that reigns supreme? And which one is it?



Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
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16 comments

  1. When I was raising two cats I had always fed dry kibble. However it wasn't until later in life that my new vet advised a diet rich in hydration and nutrients serves best. So either raw or wet food would be best over dry kibble. From what I've read, I think you are right about the raw diet. A diet closest to how dogs/cats would eat in the wild would probably be the best diet, however like you mentioned, what works for some may not work for another.

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    1. Yes, this is even more crucial for cats.

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  2. I absolutely believe in a raw food diet or at least home cooked. It's so scary what is in the dog food these days. It has changed my dogs life and health for sure! -Shelby G

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    1. Glad to hear your dogs are doing great on a whole food diet.

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  3. Every pet I've ever owned ate high quality kibble and some leftovers from the table, but I am very selective of what those leftovers are. No cupcakes, LOL! Mostly meat such as ground turkey, no pork at all. I think you have to try things until you have the balance that works best for your dog. You'll be able to tell if a diet is agreeing with your pet - less gas and bloat, more energy, etc.

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    1. Yes, the individual dog is the judge and jury when it comes to diet. Curious - why not pork? There is nothing wrong with port at all.

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  4. I agree that there is no one formula that fits all! Home cooked or fresh food is great, but I eat it so quickly and then my belly feels weird. I like kibble because i can nibble when I feel hungry... ~ Dear Mishu

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    1. LOL Funny reason for a diet choice but when it works for you that's what counts.

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  5. I definitely believe that good nutrition leads to longevity. I try my best to give my cats the best food I can.

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    1. Yes, we can only do the best we can based on what we believe is best.

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  6. I agree, good nutrition is so very important. I'm shocked at the 2.56% who do not believe in its importance! Like you, I've had different dogs on different types of diets, so I don't think there is a "one-size-fits-all," but rather what is the best and healthiest nutrition plan for each particular dog and their particular needs.

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    1. I think 2.56% is withing expectable margin.

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  7. I struggle with this question of what's the best diet for our pups. Over the summer I tried several different approaches and ultimately decided that high quality kibble supplemented with organic foods worked for our family. It's hardly perfect, but I still have nights where I look at what I'm preparing for the pups and then what I'm inhaling haphazardly and I think the dogs are eating just fine comparatively:)

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    1. LOL Cookie's diet is way better than our own too.

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  8. I honestly believe there is NO one best diet for either people or pets. It is individual and there are SO many other factors that come into play. It ticks me off when people criticize each other for what they do or do not feed their pets. We all have individual experiences and beliefs and every pet is an individual. Diet and exercise are important, but I don't believe there is one single magic potion for diet or for exercise. What works for one pet may not work for another.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. People these days are unable to accept the existence of opposing opinions. Next thing you know will be "safe spaces" for proponents of each respective diets :p

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