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SG Susan Garrett
SG Today could be one of the most important podcasts I've ever done. And it’s has nothing to do with dog
training because today I share with you the 12 things that I do that I believe have a massive impact on
the longevity and the quality of life my dogs share. I'm also going to share six things that I avoid for my
dogs to have that massively long life.
And that makes 18 things, which means this is going to be a rather long podcast. And I hope that's
okay. And if it is those of you watching YouTube right now, go ahead and hit that like button. And if
you're listening to this podcast, when you get home, I know you're going to want to hit that like button,
and you're going to want to share this podcast with your friends because it's massively important.
Hi, I'm Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. Let's jump right in. I'm going to be sharing things
that I've learned through trial and error, through observation, through talking to really brilliant people,
far smarter than me and through science. Come on, I've got a bachelor’s degree in science and I don't
ever really get to stretch that muscle to— today I'm going to be flexing that muscle just a little bit.
I would recommend one book to everybody, *The Telomere Effect. Now telomeres are like the little
endings or the long endings of a chromosome. The tales of our DNAs let's just say. The telomere
actually, science— well they don't always agree, but most scientists believe there's a direct correlation
to the length of the telomere and the age or aging of the animal that goes for us, goes for us humans,
as well as our dogs.
There is a paper actually written by Dr. Laura Fick and Gordon Fick, and a number of people called
“Telomere length and the lifespans of dog breeds”. And in this paper, they investigated dogs who live
the longest and looked at the average length of the telomeres of those dogs. And guess what dogs
who generally live longer, they have longer telomeres.
So, it comes down to that. Now how, we got this hand that we're dealt the genetics, both you and I and
our dogs. What can we do to preserve it? Like, why is it that, you know, there's always that one pack of
cigarette smoking, you know, whiskey drinking gal that lives to be a hundred. They’re outliers. They’re
We, they have, they were dealt with super long telomeres to begin with. So, with all of that oxidative
stress that they’re adding during their lifetime, they still are able to live to be a hundred. That's probably
not a good protocol to follow. What I'm going to give you is a great protocol to follow because the first
three dogs I've ever owned, they lived to be an average of 15 years. 16, 14, and 15, respectively. But
what I noticed around age 12 or 13, those dogs really went downhill mentally.
They would be, you know, as 13-year-old staring at a spot on the floor for a long time. They really
weren't as cognitively involved as my dogs. My last two dogs both lived to be over 17 and a half years
old. And as I mentioned in my last episode, where I shared about the life of my current dog, 17-year-old
Encore, she'll be 17 years old in just a little over a week. You'll want to watch that episode.
But 17 years, and quite honestly when my dog’s bodies, they wear out before their brains do. And so,
in kindness to my dogs, I have the Veterinarian come and we have a wonderful celebration of life here.
And we euthanize the dog here at home. And the last time that Dr. Kelly came to the house, I was, you
know - as you are - very broken up. And I said, “Just look at her, her brain’s engaged. She's still that
happy dog. How many other 17-and-a-half-year-old dogs do you see look as good as she does?” I
mean, all of my dogs, their eyes are clear. I'm going to share with you a photo of my three 17-year-old
dogs and how clear their eyes are. You can see the spark is still there for life.
And Dr. Kelly looked at me and she said, “Susan, we just don't see dogs live the ages that your dogs
do and in the clinic.” So, there's nothing for her to compare to. And that was a big aha for me. So
clearly, I'm on the right path and I want to share those things with you. But let's just talk first a little bit
about, and I've got notes like normally when I talk from the heart and I'm talking from the heart, but I got notes for you today. I got big time notes.
So normally when a cell has a shortened telomere, it's a sign that it is aging or that it is dying. What
happens is we have as animals, we have three cellular enemies, things that we want to avoid. Number
one is inflammation. So, you know, I'm probably telling you things you already know. We need to avoid
things that inflame our body, AKA a lot of our diets, right? Number two, insulin resistance. Which isn't
as massive a problem in dogs as it is in humans.
Although a lot of dogs and cats with insulin resistance, your veterinarians will tell you a lot of those
animals are obese. And oxidative stress. That's a biggie. And that is when I don't want to get too
technical, but the free radicals in our body overpower the antioxidants and the free radicals are, they’re
things that we can avoid. And the antioxidants are things we can build up.
That's really what I want to dig in now is we want to replace the imbalance of free radicals in our dog’s
bodies or ideally in our human bodies. Right? So that the things that create this oxidation are things
like, you know, viruses and fungus's and bacteria, but things like radiation, heavy chemicals and
obesity and stress. So that's the thing I mentioned in the last episode, stress.
So, I'm going to jump right in and I'm going to talk about the 12. That's a lot of fingers. You know,
normally I talk about the three key points to dog training. I'm talking 12 here people, 12. Do you know
what – up here in Canada that's one more than 11 - that's 12. Okay. So, I'm going to talk about the 12.
We're going to jump right in things that we can do to help improve our dog's quality of life and length of
life. Number one is exercise, consistent daily exercise. And you could vary that. You can vary it with
things like, now during your dog's lifetime, they may dictate what type of exercise they do. You know,
my 17-year-old, she loves swimming, but as she's gotten older, we curtail that, and that swimming
happens with a life jacket on her. And she doesn't go nearly as often as more like a special treat for her
rather than because it's just so hard on her body. And she is so stiff after she does any swimming, but
daily consistent exercise is really important.
And walking on different terrains and you know where, it's not just walking on pavement, but you're
going into the forest or over hills or in fields, things like that. Body awareness, fitness, getting your dog
to do different things. Tricks that you train that involve them moving their body. And like I said that it
should be done every day.
Encore still goes out for four or five short walks a day. Now the rest of my dogs, they probably average
90 minutes a day, maybe two hours a day of exercise. And I know maybe you can't do that but get out
daily and aim for at least 45 minutes to an hour. That would be ideal. It's going to be great for you and
for your dog.
So, the friends of mine, Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib, they are coming out with a new book,
The Forever Dog. I can't wait for that one to hit the press. But they went around and interviewed some
of the world Guinness's longest-lived dogs and they didn't actually interview the dogs. Okay. That
would be a little weird.
Possible, but no, but anyway, they interviewed the owners and what the average of these dogs that
who lived over 20 years old, they were getting two hours of exercise a day. So that's a biggie. Number
two, the obvious is nutrition. Now those first three dogs of mine, I fed them really high-quality kibble.
They did not eat raw. The third dog I was around when I transitioned to raw, because the big crisis for
me was when my second dog went into kidney failure. And everyone said she was going to die, and I
transitioned to raw and she lived an extra year and a half with other supportive therapies as well.
So, I feed a commercial raw and you need to seek out a balanced commercial raw. And one I
personally prefer one that is with human grade meat. And it's important for me that I rotate through
seven different protein sources for my dog. I could probably do an entire podcast just on what I feed my
dogs, but I add things like probiotics.
You know what? Our dog's immune system, it starts in the gut. So daily probiotics I add and digestive
enzymes. And I'm going to tell you right now, I use a lot of Dr. Mercola's products and I think they are
incredibly amazing quality products. So, Dr. Macola, I'll put a link in the show notes. Joint supplements.
You know, I feed my dogs joint supplements. I am a big fan of 1-TDC. I'm gonna put a link to a place
where you could actually save some money on 1-TDC.
That's a great thing for soft tissue dental, especially dental ligaments. So, I give a lot of antioxidants.
My dogs get a tablespoon of wild blueberries every day. We freeze dry and grind up broccoli that they
get broccoli stems every other day. Like there's a number of things that I add, turmeric paste, like a
turmeric paste that's got fresh ground pepper in it and coconut oil. So, there's a lot of things that I add
to the diet and it's all about adding some good quality antioxidants. Omega-3s, everyone should be
feeding Omega-3s to their dogs. That's another biggie.
Okay. So, nutrition, huge, huge, huge. It's a way to fight the free radicals with good nutrition. We know
that right. As people we know, reduce the free radicals by getting rid of a lot of the crap in our diets. All
right. Number three is brushing your dog's teeth. Now I will admit, I had, did not brush my older dog's
teeth and it is something that like Encore’s mouth, it's a little bit of a cesspool so at 17. So, I brushed
my younger dogs’ teeth, and it's just something that I'm getting into the habit of doing every day. It's not
something you can do once a week. It really is not going to have that much effect once a week. You
really have to do it daily at the minimum, like four or five days a week.
And if you do it in a compliant way, then the dogs are, they're loving it. They're just going to open their
mouth and let you do it. And it's like, literally it takes me about a minute and a half to do my dog's teeth.
This is a biggie. I'm going to leave a link to a blog post on nail trimming. So important.
My good friend, Dr. Leslie Woodcock did a talk for me on why it's so important to keep our dog's nails
cut short. I'll give you the little reader's digest is that when our dog's nails grow long, it causes pain
back in the joints. It causes them to sit back, but most importantly, the dog’s sense magnetic true North
through the pads of their feet.
And when the nails get long, the pads don't contact the ground the same way, and that changes their
equilibrium. So very important that you cut your dog's nails. I do my dog, well, I don't really do my dog's
nails. Somebody here does my dog's nails every week. My dog's nails are cut short, so you can't hear
them. How short? You can't hear them when they're walking, click, click, click on the kitchen floor. You
can't hear them, then they are short enough. So, check out that blog post. We talked about how to cut
it, but also what goes hand in hand with this is a compliant way.
So cooperative health for my dogs means they just lie on a bed. They're happy to have their nails done
because the way that I've built this up, that's something those of you in Recallers you're familiar with
the new program called Pedicure Please Program. I'm teaching how I've taught my dogs to not just be
tolerant of having their nails done, but actually liking. And some of them are moving into, they love their
nails done. If I open that door, they fly in on the bed and on their side there they're all in.
So, it's not just about cutting. You got to cut your dog's nails. You've got to get comfortable with that
Dremel. I'm going to leave a link to *my favorite Dremel to use. It's a simple, easy one. It's inexpensive.
We have two, the *bigger one that we use is faster. It's a *diamond tip.
All right. I'll try and get both of, I'll get both of them in there then. Okay. So, brushing your dog's teeth
daily, nail trimming weekly, brushing— getting a brush and brush through your dog's coat. It engages
the blood flow to all those areas. Get your hands on your dogs and then you can like, that's where you
can feel for little bumps, new little bumps that might come up. So those are another thing that we do.
We do light therapy with our dogs. If they have some sort of injury, I have a laser that I use on them
whenever there's any kind of problems in our older dogs, like Encore gets laser therapy every week.
There's something that gets done. Okay. Moving on to number seven. Number seven, oh so big.
Mental engagement. So very big. I belong to a study. I got a random phone call. There's a study that
goes across Canada. It's a study on longevity in humans. So probably 20 years ago, I got a phone call.
They asked me if I'd be volunteered to be on a study where I go in every five years and they do blood
and they do all sorts of testing and they ask me all these questions. But a lot, I mean, the questions
focus around the things you'd expect, diet and exercise, but a lot of the questions they focus on your
There's a reason why a lot of people, once they go into a retirement home, the vast majority of people
die within a year. Because they don't feel needed. They don't feel part of something. And so mental
engagement of our old kids is so seriously important. So, a little shaping game. If you've taught your
dog tricks when they're younger, you can ask them to do them when they're older.
So have a routine of predictability like Encore nose. When in the day she gets cookies. And so, she like
at 5:00 AM she climbs up on a bed in the kitchen and she's there for me when I come out. And it's just
a routine of predictability. So mental engagement, the importance of our dogs feeling needed and
engaged. Talk to those dogs throughout the day routinely if you're home. I mean, when you're home.
Make a point to talk to them like they're special. Our older dog, they're sharing all that great wisdom
with a younger dog. So, make sure they're sharing the right stuff. Number— I don't know what number
I'm giving up on telling you the numbers. Big adventure time, big adventure time.
So, this is something I started when I got my first dog got to be older. Every day I'd take her out oneon-one and I do something with just her and I, and guess what guys? Sometimes it was just walking
around the car. And telling her how amazing she was. Or I might put a little bar down on the ground for
her to walk over because she spent her career doing agility.
And when she'd walk over the bar, I would say “Champion of the World!” And I would tell her how
amazing she was. So just one on a big adventure time, make your dog feel special every day. It goes
such a long, you know, it might take you a minute. It might. I mean, if you have more time then you
could like with Encore, quite one of us, Kim or myself or Chelsea who works here, we'll take her for big
one-on-one around the pond by herself. Every day, she goes out something special, big adventure
A lifetime of training that's free of judgment. I personally think this is a big, big part of my dog’s
longevity. That the training is constantly focused on building our dog's confidence. Building our
confidence, reducing any fear or anxiety. Everything we do is about that.
And that is in the book, The Telomere Effect, they talked about people who are raised in a unstable
home, like when you're raised by alcoholic parents, or if you fell down, you know, it's not about never
failing, it’s about if you fell down that your parents were there to tell you it wasn't a big deal. To give you
the confidence. World confidence to how you should respond when you fail. So, they talk about that it
could shorten your telomeres if you were raised in a household that that wasn't available to you.
A lifetime of training and engagement in a household of relaxation. I think that's just super important.
Regular body work. So, my dogs see the chiropractor once a month. They see the osteopath once a
month. They get a massage every week. A massage therapist comes to the house every single week.
And of course, we put our hands on them almost daily. I think of course, I like to look to alternative
So, things like acupuncture where appropriate if possible. TTouch, like different modalities that can
help stimulate life chi and keep your dog living a very, very long time. Have a great— point number
whatever. A great relationship with your Veterinarian. Right. That you do regular wellness checks,
where you go in and you get geriatric blood profiles taken, including a complete thyroid panel. That's
super, super important.
But also have a great relationship with an integrative health practitioner. If you're lucky enough to live
near an integrative or holistic veterinarian, that's phenomenal. I am blessed to have a Naturopaths who
helps me with just, not just with myself, but with supplementing my dogs as well. So, I think that a
traditional medicine is super important when we've got to have that great relationship with a
Veterinarian, but also look beyond the walls of traditional medicine. That works for me. And if that
works for you, then I think that's going to be super, super important.
Okay. Creative comforts and assistance around the house. So as our dogs get older, they're going to
be less stable on their feet. So, things like, I love *Dirty Dog Doormats. I should have shares in the
company with how many I have around this house. If you have any kind of slippery floors, now our
floors were, aren't really slippery, they're slate. But as Encore got weaker, as she got older from her
past injuries, we just put these doormats and she can run like a kid now. Well, okay I'm exaggerating.
She doesn't run, but she gets around on these doormats. She does not, she doesn't lose her footing.
Ramps. So, we've put in a ramp to go down the outside and we put a ramp to go up to the couple of
stairs that she goes from. The area she likes to sleep and hang out into the area in the kitchen when
she wants to hang out with us or go in the bedrooms or whatever. So, ramps. We use a harness on
Encore. If the ramp is too icy or snow, we'll just put her in a harness and carry her down.
And I have a harness that I used during her rehab, but a harness you might want to look into is called
Help 'Em Up®. So, Help 'Em, that looks like a really, really good harness. And if the Help 'Em Up
people are watching, I think you should send me one of those because they look like a really, really
Have comfortable beds for your dogs. My dogs, I love Underdog Beds because they're filled with air.
I've got a number of beds that I love. I have an issue with dog beds. Okay. I admit that.
But dog beds, when our dogs are older, that are going to support because they don't have as much fat
or muscle on them. And so, you want to get them up off the floor, love the underdog beds but any bed
that gives your dogs a lot of cushion.
Okay. Stress reducing activities. Things like hiding cookies, letting them use your nose. One of the last
senses for our dogs that they lose is the sense of smell. They have that sense of smell for a very long
time so use it.
Teach them scent games when they're younger, it's a great way for them to relieve stress and you can
use it when they're older, but just hiding cookies. When you're out going for a walk, let them stop and
smell the pee mail that's other dogs have left. It’s super, super important. Okay. So, I believe that is my
list of all of the amazing things that you can do to help your dog live a long and happy life.
Now here's the things that I strongly encourage you to avoid. These are stressors. And stressors are
toxin that they're going to shorten our dog's telomeres. They're going to create free radicals. They're
going to have impact on the mitochondrial health of our dogs.
So, number one chemicals. Household cleaners - use things that don't have a lot, you know, if you can
please use things that are kind to the environment and kind to your dog.
Our dogs are laying on surfaces and a lot of them are licking surfaces. So, detergents that you wash
their beds in and things that you wash the counters that they might come in contact with. Avoid things
with the word fragrance added or flavors added.
As well as the kind of bowls that you feed your dogs out of. I'm a big fan of food quality, the kind you
see in big professional kitchens, quality high grade stainless steel. Big fan of the basis bowls. I looked
at high and low for some really good bowls. And I found these on Amazon. I'm going to *give you a link
in the show notes to the bowls that I feed.
But things also like chemical stressors that like, scented candles or the plug-in deodorizers or using
spray deodorizers. Like I just don't use anything that adds artificial fragrances to my dogs. And a lot of
essential oils will do the same things guys.
So, you might want to avoid those. Perimeter sprays or household sprays that are killing fleas or ticks,
or, I mean, I know sometimes you have to use them then get the dogs out of the house.
Go to an Airbnb for a couple of days if you're, if you have to absolutely use those. Things like it used to
drive my late husband crazy that I wouldn't allow him to use, to use any sprays on the grass or the
trees or the garden, because I just didn't want my dogs exposed to that. So, I never did.
Yes. I live near a golf course, so I do have that added stressor, free radicals popping everywhere there,
but I try to combat that with the good things that already mentioned. Topical stressors. So again, I live
in an area that doesn't have a lot of fleas and ticks. So, I use natural flea and tick preventative if I use
any. But when you're putting topical monthly flea and tick prevention, that is just another stressor,
another toxin that you're adding to your dog that they're going to have to fend off. That runs the risk of
shortening the telomere length. Right.
And the same as a scented shampoos or perfumes that your groomer might be spraying on your dog.
All of these things are just extra, extra things that are attacking the DNA. The ingested stressors, poor
quality dog food. I printed off a recipe or ingredient list of a popular, not a good dog food, a popular, like
a grocery store dog food. I'm not going to tell you the one because I don't want to get sued, but here's
the ingredient list of— you would to all know the name, if I told you the name of this.
Corn, pfft! Don't eat corn. Don't want to feed your corn to your dogs. Soybeans. I'm a vegan. I avoid
eating soybeans. Bone and beef meal. If it's got the word meal in it, you don't want to feed it to your
dog. Whole wheat, no. Dogs don't need gluten either. Animal fat corn syrup.
Really? Our dogs don't need sugar. No. Wheat middlings, no. Water, okay good. Here's one product,
one ingredient I agree with. I could go on. I'm not going. I'm not reading anymore. You get my point.
Don't feed your dogs crap. Because what happens is your dog's not getting any good nutrition. Just
support the immune function. That has to help clear that body.
Table scraps. So, a lot of your table scraps aren't going to be good for your dogs. Not only don't they
need the XX calories because the number one thing we want to avoid is obesity as another stressor,
but we want to keep our dogs at a nice healthy weight.
If I ever went to a drive-through for a coffee, they would say, “Oh, you've got a dog. Do you want a little
donut hole?” No. Do you know what I mean? That's sugar. Right. So, we're immediately dumping sugar
into the bloodstream and immediately we're triggering our body cytokinins and that is going to create
an immune or an inflammation response in our dog's body. They don't need it. Don't give it to them.
So, we don't want to do things like, you know, if we can avoid the overuse of antibiotics and steroids
and all those things are just not good for our dogs. Long-term, again, I know sometimes necessary.
Use them and then go in and try to combat them with some good homeopathics. Injected stressors
I am not an anti-vaxxer. My dogs get vaccinated, but I don't vaccinate every year. I do use titers where
appropriate and I don't vaccinate for every antigen available. I vaccinate for the antigens I feel are
necessary. So, there's a lot of things out there that you can vaccinate for that— again, use your best
judgment on that one.
But see your Veterinarian every year. Absolutely go for a wellness test every year. Now there's
energetic or emotional stressors. So, the training method that you're using, the blame, the judgment,
the punishment, you know I talked about that. That the environment, if that environment of kindness
that builds confidence is what you want to establish for your dog.
And you don't want to create an environment where they can't meet your expectations. So, you want to
decrease even the tension between family members. And remember in a past episode here on Shaped
by Dog I talked about the research of Dr. Biagio D’Aniello from Italy, where he said our dogs sense and
take on the emotions in the environment.
So, if there's a lot of stress and screaming and yelling, that will stress the dogs. All right. Do you want
to also decrease the tension between other dogs?
If you have two dogs that don't get along or even marginally don't— project togetherness guys, you got
to get them liking each other or heartbreakingly consider placing one in another home.
Right. We want to decrease the stress level for everyone. Okay. Here's one that most people aren't
even going to consider. Radiation stressor. When I say radiation stressors, you're thinking, “Oh yeah.
Like x-rays. I don't want to x-ray my dog.” Well, sometimes you have to x-ray your dog, but that wasn't
what I'm talking about.
I'm talking about every day radiation like from a cell phone. Right. That there's a lot of scientists that
believe that future generations are going to look back at our use of cell phones the way we now look
back at smoking. Remember smoking, when it first came out, there's a lot of doctors who said it's good
for your health.
Yeah. We know that. And there's a lot of, a lot of experts that believe that the radiation that we're
exposed to with our cell phones is like quadrillion times more than we need. So, if you're going to have
a cell phone, get something like this.
This is called the safe sleeve and it helps to block radiation, EMFs, electromagnetic frequencies that
come through to you. And things like, if you can turn off your routers or your— like I turn my Wi-Fi off
every night here.
Don't put your dog bed near your router, or right near a big nest of electrical appliances, or you know, if
you have a microwave, I'm doing you a favor right now, get rid of the microwave. It is emitting radiation
even when it's not turned on. And an air fryer is much healthier and thus better for you.
I haven't had a microwave in the house, I don't know, 25 or 30 years. Okay. So, you want to decrease
the EMFs that are surrounding yourself and your dog. It's just good health. Okay. This was a super,
super long podcast. I hope you've got something of value from it. And I really hope that you share it
with every dog owning friend or pet owning friend. They could own cats. They could own parrots. Every
friend you have that owns a pet. Please share that with them. We want to keep the stress down, have
nice fit dogs that aren't carrying all that excess weight - It's just not good for them - and all those other
good things that I mentioned here on the podcast.
And please come back to YouTube. Give me a like. Subscribe to the channel and hit that bell so you
get notified when our next episodes upcoming. We'll see you next time on Shaped by Dog.