Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dog Longevity Survey Part II: How Important Is Time Outdoors to Longevity?

The responses to this one are mixed, though everybody sees some degree of importance to our dogs getting time outdoors. Which is great because if nothing else, it is excellent for quality of life. Does it have any impact on longevity, though?

The comment under "other" is also interesting because it cites the owner walking or carrying their dog twice a day. That would separate the subject to exercise outdoors and merely being outdoors without exercise.


Extremely important56.67%
Important20.00%
Somewhat important20.00%
Not important  0.00%
I don't know  0.00%
Other  3.33%


What lifestyles did the world's longest-living dogs lead?


When looking at longest-living dogs and their diets, you'll find that their diets ranged anywhere from raw, leftovers, kibble and even vegan.


So while everybody agrees diet is important to longevity, the answer which diet is best is less than clear. Perhaps it's an individual matter, maybe it's more of an issue of the amount than the type of food ... nobody really knows. What seems to be clear is that there is more to it than meets the eye.

What about lifestyles, though?

The two longest-living dogs spent their lives on a farm; getting plenty of time outdoors.

Dogs love the outdoors.


Dogs are animals, and the outdoors is what resonates with them. There is an opportunity to exercise, and loads of mental stimulation. Even when she couldn't walk, Jasmine was happiest outside. When I was sitting there with her, I could see why. The breeze brushing over her fur. The grass and branches moving with the breeze, birds in the sky, and most importantly all the smells. When Cookie walks outside and lifts her nose to take in the air, I bet she can smell everything that goes on miles away. When a person is sick, they read or watch tv. For a dog, taking in all the air ought to be equal to that.

Being outdoors stimulates the body and all the senses. The different textures and challenges of the ground, the smells, and the sounds. I tell you that Cookie can hear mice under the snow or ground. There is nothing one can do at home that comes anywhere close to what the outdoors has to offer just by being there.

The risks versus benefits


Some risks increase by being outside; infections, insects, snakes, mushrooms. However, a dog can contract a dangerous infection just by going to pee in their own yard.

The average home is more toxic than the average outdoors. Air quality indoors is poorer unless you're using air purifiers. There are toxins in our cleaning products, washing products, furniture, paints, printers ...

A while back I actually wrote a post on the healing power of the outdoors; simply observing much difference, it made for Jasmine. It was like a miracle cure. Since I already laid out all the arguments for the benefits of time outdoors there, I'm not going to repeat them. I believe that the benefits outweigh the risks by far. Plus, outdoors is the most natural environment for dogs.

Between the physiological and emotional benefits, I believe that sufficient time outside might be one of the most important aspects of long, happy life for our dogs.


What do you think?

Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
How Important Is Weight Management for Longevity?
How Important Is Diet for Longevity?

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31 comments

  1. I am not sure if I commented but am double checking with another!

    Dogs and the outdoors are meant for each other and I am sure a happy dog with outdoor exercise must improve its longevity. People are advised to get outside, take a walk, or encouraged to exercise for their own well being so I believe a happy dog is a dog that enjoys time outside.

    Risks? I am sure there are but life is a risk. A dog is family, cared for as family, enjoyed with family. I just wish I could take my cats for walks. They prefer to make their own way though :-)

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    1. Yes, dogs and the outdoors are meant for each other.

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  2. I think everyone does better with some exercise and fresh air. Our house is really drafty, so even when it is too cold to be outside, we still get fresh air.

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    1. Yes, absolutely. LOL Drafty house as a substitute to time outside? Cute :-)

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  3. I agree that spending time outside is crucial for our dogs and for us. I read the book Vitamin N (N for Nature) a year or two ago. Really fascinating evidence about the importance of the outdoors for people. Why not make outside even more fun by adding a canine BFF?

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    1. Vitamin N? Love it. I have to look for that book.

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  4. I agree that being outdoors is the most natural thing to dogs. I was raised with pets that were allowed to go out as they please so I can't really imagine only having them indoor and not letting thwm out (cats) or not walking them outside enough (dogs).

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    1. It's important to balance safety and freedom to be outside; but time outside is important.

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  5. I think dogs need outdoor time for sure. our dog is hyper when coming in from outside.

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    1. Yes, it's so exciting, sometimes it takes a while to power down from that.

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  6. I make sure Layla gets one long walk a day plus time in the dog park so that she is outdoors wherever possible and during the weekend even more time. I think it is very important

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    1. Great job. I'm sure she really appreciates that.

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  7. I can definitely see how being outdoors is beneficial to dogs - not only will they get more exercise outside, but they're going to get more mental stimulation, especially with all the interesting smells!

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    1. Definitely. Just being out there is more stimulating than being indoors, even when just sitting or laying around like Jasmine did when she was recovering from her medical horror.

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  8. I agree as well. Yes there are risks. I always clean my dogs paws after being out of their own yard. One person in my family found out the hard way how important that is after their dog passed from having walked in poisonous mushrooms and licking his paws - which is a natural thing for dogs to do. Such as sad thing. We have to just be aware what our dogs get into when out of their yard but for that matter even IN their own yards!

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    1. Yes, there are risks, unfortunately. That said, there are people who die falling out of bed (60 per year, I think it is?) So that's kind of puts things into different perspective.

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  9. Mr. N gets fidgety without enough outdoor time. He thinks more is better.

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  10. Oh my pooch loves to be outside. We have a big fenced in yard and he could be out there for hours, sunbathing, running, sniffing, etc. The other day he had surgery and when he went outside he almost seemed more relaxed and happier than inside.

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    1. Yes, I believe he was. I remember Jasmine after her first surgery; she was only allowed to go potty in the yard ... but just taking her outside the gate, even for just a couple of minutes, made a huge difference for her emotionally.

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  11. I believe both dogs and humans live a longer, healthier life if they spend time outdoors regularly. Our two let us know when they want to go out!

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  12. I'm a huge proponent of being outdoors getting fresh air and exercise. I think it's critical for both humans and animals. It's natural, where we are meant to be I think. My Husky Icy lives to be outside. She'll literally sit out in the yard just sniffing everything on the wind and twitching her ears listening to who knows what. She loves it, and of course she loves to hike and take long walks in town and in parks.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    1. Absolutely. Dogs are meant to spend time outside.

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  13. Seeing how the air inside your home can be stifling and toxic, I'd say spending time outside for dogs is essential and very important. Same for humans too.You must get fresh air in the house and in your lungs.

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  14. I so agree! Having Huskies, they much prefer to being out than in. I have to sometimes convince them to come inside...and then they will hesitate and stare at me as if to say, "seriously?" Their favorite part of the day is when they get to go out first thing in the morning! Such enthusiasm! I love to watch them lift their noses up to sniff that clear air and rough and tumble with each other, Husky style! They also get me to be outside more as I love to be with them!

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    1. The outdoors is so much more stimulating than anything you can ever do inside.

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  15. If dogs are like people, we definitely need to be outside enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Unfortunately, my girls don't get outside, but I do have plenty of windows where they can enjoy sunlight and watch the world go by.

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    1. It does seem different with cats. Though I do see people walking their cats, on a leash, just like you would a dog.

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  16. I completely agree! Fresh air is good for us - mentally and physically. It is beautiful in Ontario, this week and Henry wants to be outside ALL DAY! The bells on the door are ringing non-stop.

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    1. Absolutely. We're still waiting for the ground to get reasonable, though. So far it's a mix of ice and deep, crusty snow :-( So we can go out only very carefully. Cookie wants to go into the bush to track bunnies.

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