There’s no question that we all love our pets like they’re our children. Most pet-owners are aware, however, that our animals are not with us for a long time, so we have to enjoy them as much as we can while we have them.
One couple has been lucky enough to enjoy their dog far longer than anyone expected, and now are the proud owners of the oldest golden retriever in history.
Augie the Oldest Dog
Augie was born on April 24, 2000, and, to no fault of her own, was rehomed twice over the next fourteen years. She was then adopted by Jennifer and Steve Hetterscheidt, who are both active in their local golden retriever rescue organization. Given Augie’s age when they adopted her, the couple was not expecting to have her in their lives for very long.
Over the last six years, they have taken Augie on RV trips all across the country, played fetch with her in the pool, and she has had the chance to play with several canines and feline siblings, including three other golden retrievers- Sherman, Belle, and Bruce .
Augie got to celebrate her milestone birthday with a dog-friendly carrot cake and a party with her family.
Life as a Twenty-Year-Old Golden Retriever
According to the Hetterscheidts, Augie is surprisingly healthy for her age. She is often a bit shaky when she first stands up, but is still able to move around quite well and enjoys going for walks in the backyard.
After being diagnosed with some kidney problems six years ago, she has been eating a mixture of wet and dry Hill’s Prescription Diet k/d, and has been taking supplements to support her kidneys and joints. Her parents have also been giving her subcutaneous (SQ) fluids twice per week, which has helped her significantly .
SQ fluids are fluids that are injected with a needle just under the skin to help a dog who is dehydrated, suffering from a medical condition, or is undergoing surgery .
How Long do Golden Retrievers Typically Live?
Usually, golden retrievers live about ten to twelve years. Some can live up to thirteen or fourteen years, however sadly many do not reach even the average age for their breed.
Golden Retrievers used to have an average lifespan of sixteen or seventeen years, but over the last forty to fifty years that has been significantly reduced. This is because golden retrievers die of bone cancer, lymphoma, and cancer of the blood vessels more than any other breed in the country.
Scientists and veterinarians are still not sure why Golden Retrievers experience higher rates of cancer than other breeds, but research is being done in this area. Because humans carry 95 percent of the same DNA as the dogs, understanding why gold retrievers are more susceptible to cancer could have human implications as well .
How to Help Your Dog Live a Long and Healthy Life
The website Golden Hearts offers five tips for keeping your golden retriever healthy and helping it to live a long life:
- Listen to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will get to know your dog and will be able to give the best advice with regards to medications for fleas, ticks, and worms, as well as food and exercise, and will be able to work with you and your dog to create a healthy-living action plan.
- Listen to your dog. Just because one thing works for another dog, doesn’t mean that it is going to work for yours. This is especially important when it comes to choosing the best food for your pup. Even if a certain food is supposedly the best for your breed, if your dog doesn’t like it, he won’t eat it. Pay attention to your dog’s behaviour and try to figure out what he’s telling you.
- Feed your dog high-quality food. Many people try to buy the cheaper brand of dog food to save money in the short-term, but it ends up coming back to you when you have higher vet bills down the road. Talk to your veterinarian and do your research- the higher price tag will be worth it in the end.
- Groom regularly. Keeping your dog’s nails, paws, coat, teeth, and ears clean can prevent ear infections or gum, teeth and skin issues that could turn into bigger problems if they’re not dealt with right away.
- Exercise regularly. Golden retrievers are more prone to obesity, so regular exercise is important for keeping them at a healthy weight, and ensuring their bones and heart stay strong .