Preventing Premature Aging in Dogs

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To slow down your dog’s aging process and prevent premature aging, you must first understand what causes premature aging. This doesn’t involve just one factor alone, but several, including: 

The one you have the most control over is inflammation. Reducing inflammation in your dog’s body alone can significantly extend, and improve, their life. 

Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation would result if your dog sprained her paw or stepped on a thorn. However, it would also be required for the healing process.

Swelling, redness, and discomfort at the site of an injury or illness are all symptoms of acute inflammation. Inflammation of this type is a normal aspect of the immune system. That area’s blood vessels grow and become more porous. This allows immune cells to migrate out and aid in tissue repair.

Chronic, low-grade inflammation, on the other hand, is an issue.

Chronic inflammation is an overactive immune response that lasts for a long time. Your dog’s immune function will begin to deteriorate if there are prolonged periods of inflammation

premature aging in dogs
Premature Aging in Dogs

Degenerative illnesses, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes are all linked to chronic, low-grade inflammation. Most significantly, persistent inflammation has the ability to convert healthy cells into cancerous cells.

Organ disease, and potentially cancer, will eventually result from chronic inflammation. This is why older dogs’ kidneys, livers, hearts, and other organs have more issues than when they were younger.

Inflammation and Heart Disease

Chronic inflammation is now thought to be the cause of heart disease in humans, according to researchers. Inflammatory cells circulate in the blood vessels when the immune system is always on high alert. Plaque builds up dangerously as a result of this

Plaque elicits a stronger immunological response. The arteries begin to stiffen as the plaque increases. This raises the chances of a stroke or heart attack.

The Causes Of Inflammation Leading to Aging

There are several causes of chronic inflammation including:

A Buildup of Waste

The cells in your dog’s body are always operating. Cells are constantly producing energy, transcribing DNA, transporting chemicals, producing enzymes, and dividing. All of these processes generate waste. Cells must constantly remove the waste products or they will become collectors. 

Unfortunately, when the body isn’t functioning properly, some of this waste is unable to be removed (and sometimes even if it is functioning properly). This waste accumulates over time and begins to obstruct cell function.

Damage and Mutations in the DNA

Inside your dog’s cells, his DNA is organized into chromosomes. Your dog’s genetic information is stored in DNA. Every cell’s size, shape, and function are determined by it. Every dog’s size, form, and function are determined by their DNA

DNA can change and mutate over time, especially in cells that divide slowly. Premature aging can be caused by DNA mutations, and cells in senior animals tend to have more mutations.

Mothers can also pass genetic mutations to their puppies. Similar to how genetics influences us as humans, these mutations can predetermine how quickly the puppies age. Of course, the dog we choose is “our” dog and are a part of our family, but if you are concerned about longevity, if you are purchasing a puppy from a breeder, ask about the genetics of the parents (and grandparents if able). 

Telomere Shortening

A telomere is a length of DNA at the end of each chromosome. Consider telomeres to be the stiff ends of shoelaces. Telomeres prevent your dog’s chromosomes from unwinding by protecting their ends.

Telomeres shorten as your dog gets older. The older the dog gets, the shorter the telomeres become. The telomere gets shorter and shorter every time a cell divides.

When the telomeres disappear, the cell will generally self-destruct (a process known as apoptosis), but they could also become cancerous or no longer function (known as senescence). 

The immune system can detect and destroy malignant cells if it is working properly by performing apoptosis. Cancer is a constant presence in the body, and it is well suited to deal with it. It’s when it goes uncontrolled that it becomes a problem (more about this in a different course). 

The most damage is caused by senescent cells. A single senescent cell can set off a chain reaction.

They cling to the body and emit noxious substances. These molecules begin to adhere to nearby healthy cells, causing them to age or become malignant. The buildup of senescent cells causes a great deal of inflammation.

The removal of senescent cells from the hearts of aged mice restored heart health and reversed cardiac aging. That’s quite a finding.

Oxidative Stress

Free radicals are compounds that have one electron missing. Single electrons make free radicals unstable since electrons like to be in pairs. These unstable molecules will steal electrons from molecules nearby. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that results from this.

Antioxidants are substances that can give an electron to free radicals while remaining stable. This keeps free radicals from accumulating and damaging cells and DNA.

Inflammation will occur if there are more free radicals than antioxidants. This is known as oxidative stress, and it is a crucial factor in the aging process.

What Triggers Inflammation?

Excess Weight: Dogs (and humans) who are overweight carry inflammatory markers in their fat cells.

Inactivity: An inactive dog is an inflamed dog. Regular exercise can reduce inflammatory triggers in your dog (and you).

Stress: Dogs can often lead stressful lives, especially if they are continuously bored or anxious.  Chronic stress activates high levels of cortisol and inflammatory markers.

Chemical Exposure: This is especially true of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and aluminum. The top sources of heavy metals are vaccines and foods (yes, you read that right). 

Food: Some foods are inflammatory while others are anti-inflammatory. 

Dysbiosis and Inflammation

The colonies of microorganisms that exist in your dog’s intestines make up the microbiome. Bacteria make up the majority of these microorganisms. Bacteria have developed alongside animals and play an important role in human health and disease.

Bacteria are so closely linked to human health that they have the ability to affect the brain and immune system. Vitamins and amino acids are also produced by bacteria. Bacteria can also create pro- or anti-inflammatory compounds.

Your dog’s microbes exceed his own cells by a factor of ten.

A healthy microbiome contains a vast and diversified bacterial population. Toxic bacteria can infiltrate the gut if the bacteria populations aren’t large and diversified. Dysbiosis, or an imbalanced gut microbiome, is one of the leading causes of inflammation.

Dysbiosis can also cause leaky gut which causes holes in the intestinal lining, therefore leaking toxins into the body rather than getting rid of them through the excretory system.

Only a single layer of microscopic epithelial cells separates the contents of the small intestine from the rest of the body. This allows your dog to absorb nutrients more easily, but it also renders her gut vulnerable to leaky gut.

Hazardous bacteria can colonize if your dog has dysbiosis and They create toxic byproducts.  The gap between epithelial cells will open up as the epithelia become inflamed. Toxins and immunological factors can now get through the intestines and into your dog’s body. This is known as leaky gut.

Your dog’s microbiome diversity declines as she gets older (we will go over how to help this soon). 

Preserving your dog’s microbiota is important for slowing down the aging process.

 Your dog’s microbiome can be harmed by:

Pro-Inflammatory Food

The foods that increase inflammation include: 

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Pro-inflammatory proteins are activated by omega-6 fatty acids, but omega-3 fatty acids can decrease inflammation. Your dog’s (and your) ancestors ate a diet with nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. Never try to totally eliminate omega-6 from your dog’s diet; however, omega 3s should outnumber omega 6s.

Omega-6 fats are abundant in today’s highly processed diets, including your dog’s kibble.

Omega-6 fats also cause dysbiosis in the gut.

High Glycemic Foods

The glycemic index of starchy foods is high. Foods having a high glycemic index raise blood sugar levels. The faster insulin is released, the larger the load.

Foods with a high glycemic index trigger the inflammatory response. Dysbiosis can also be caused by high-glycemic foods.

Insulin spikes cause glucose to be converted to fat rather than used for fuel. As a result, dogs with high insulin levels become overweight. Remember that being overweight is another factor that contributes to aging.

Fruits contain approximately 6-8 percent carbohydrate, while vegetables and sprouts have approximately 4%. Meat is devoid of starch, whereas grains have the highest concentration.

The majority of commercial dog foods include 30-60% starch. When dogs consume this much carbohydrate, their insulin levels rise, causing inflammation.

Foods Lacking Antioxidants

Inflammation is largely caused by free radicals. If you want to avoid premature aging, you’ll need a regular supply of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are added to kibble, mainly in the form of vitamin E, vitamin C, or rosemary. However, kibble oxidizes, and the antioxidants that may have originally been in the kibble likely aren’t once the bag is opened. The lipids in kibble quickly oxidize when exposed to oxygen. 

Not only this, antioxidants are sensitive to heat, so once the food has been rendered and processed, the antioxidants may already be gone before it even gets in the bag.

The Anti-Inflammation Diet

If you want to slow down inflammation in your dog, here are some of the major dietary changes you need to consider.

Add Omega-3 Fats to the Diet (EPA/DHA)

Inflammatory indicators like interleukin-1 and interleukin-6 are reduced by omega-3 fatty acids. They can also improve the microbiome’s balance and diversity.

Telomere length can also be increased by eating a diet high in omega-3 fats. According to studies, the more omega-3 in the diet, the longer the telomeres will be.

Since EPA and DHA oxidize quickly, you should give your dog omega-3 fats from whole food sources. Small, oily fishes like sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Refrain from feeding larger fish that may contain mercury or other heavy metals.

Green-lipped mussel oil and brain from grass-fed animals are both good sources of omega-3 fatty acids as well. 

Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts

Sulforaphane, more than any other substance you can give your dog, activates the anti-inflammatory pathway. Sulforaphane is an antioxidant as well as a liver detoxifier.

All cruciferous vegetables, such as bok choy and cabbage, contain sulforaphane, but broccoli has the largest concentration. Sulforaphane levels are higher in broccoli sprouts and seeds.

If you give your dog broccoli or other cruciferous veggies, make sure you mulch them rather than cooking them. Sulforaphane and myrosinase, the enzyme that transforms it in the body, are both destroyed by heat.


Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, also decreases inflammation.


Polyphenols are compounds found exclusively in plants, particularly berries. Polyphenols suppress the Nf-kB pathway, which reduces inflammation. They’re also high in antioxidants and prebiotics, which help keep your dog’s (and your own) microbiota in good shape.


Fasting your dog can also help with inflammation control. Fasting lowers oxidative stress, which causes telomere shortening. Consider fasting or feeding your dog only once a day once or every other day from time to time. 


Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that proliferate in your dog’s gut microbiomeProbiotics assist your dog’s microbiota in becoming more diverse and balanced.

To ensure that there are enough bacteria to colonize, look for a probiotic with at least 10 strains and 30 billion CFU (colony forming units). 

Since soil-based probiotics are less delicate, you can pick one or two strains and give your dog less than a billion CFU. S. Boullardi is also a fantastic choice because it’s antibiotic-resistant and a powerful yeast-based probiotic. Before purchasing a probiotic, do some research. 

Our professional recommendation is FullBucket Health’s Daily Dog.


Prebiotics are foods that provide sustenance for good intestinal flora. They’re constructed of indigestible fiber and carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion. Several examples of prebiotics include mushrooms, fermented foods, burdock root, and dandelion root.

Preventing Premature Aging

Premature aging due to inflammation can feel a bit overwhelming to address due to the various causes, but there are three key steps to remember: 

  • Remove inflammatory triggers 
  • Add anti-inflammatory foods 
  • Build a diverse and healthy microbiome (probiotics can help)


Pathophysiology of coronary artery disease

Feeling old? DNA mutations might be causing you to age quicker

Mom’s Genes May Affect How Fast You Age | Live Science

Removing Senescent Cells Improves Heart Health |

Nrf2 signaling pathway: Pivotal roles in inflammation

Obesity and inflammation: the linking mechanism and the complications – PMC

The Gut Microbiota of Healthy Aged Chinese Is Similar to That of the Healthy Young

Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the Gut Microbiota

Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation in healthy middle-aged and older adults: a randomized controlled trial

Docosahexaenoic Acid and Cognition throughout the Lifespan – PMC

Published by Amber L. Drake

Dr. Amber L. Drake is a celebrated author and a distinguished cancer specialist, renowned for her comprehensive research in canine cancer prevention and nutrition. She is widely recognized for her commitment to helping dogs lead long and joyful lives, as well as for her contributions to veterinary medicine education. As the CEO of Canine Companions Co., the Founder of the Drake Dog Cancer Foundation and Academy, and the Co-Founder of Preferable Pups, she has become a respected and influential figure in the canine community, earning the admiration and respect of dog enthusiasts around the globe.

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