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Seven Steps To Longer Life

Woman sitting in grass with white bulldog

How do you help your pet live a long, good quality life?  Here are 7 things you can do to support their longevity:

  1. Feed a Good Quality Diet:  There is no substitute for good nutrition.  A healthy diet helps your pet grow to his full potential, maintain healthy skin to protect him from the outside elements, maintain intestinal health for nutrient absorption and maintain healthy muscles and joints.  Proper nutrition can also boost the immune system to fight and prevent disease.
  2. Stay lean and mean:  Obesity can put our pets at risk for many diseases such as joint disease, heart disease and diabetes, and can shorten their lifespan by as much as 2 years.  Additionally, fat produces mediators of inflammation that lead to chronic disease.  To maintain proper weight, feed an appropriate amount of food based on body weight.  If your pet is overweight, start by reducing this amount by 10% over a period of 5 days.   If there has been no weight loss after 4-6 weeks, consider reducing by another 5%.   A reduction in calorie intake will account for only 70% of weight loss.  The other 30% is exercise.  If you are not walking your dog, then start.  If you are walking with your dog, go an extra mile and pick up the pace so that he is panting, and you are breaking a sweat.  For cats, one or two 15-minute play sessions a day, mimicking hunting behavior, will help with weight loss.
  3. Routine Veterinary Care:  Beyond regular vaccinations, a yearly exam can uncover hidden health issues.  Do not ignore symptoms hoping they will go away.  Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to increased survival times and lower treatment costs.
  4. Dental Care:  Tartar, gingivitis, periodontal disease and infection are not only painful but can lead to heart and kidney disease.  Routine dental cleanings and brushing are the best way to keep dental related health issues at bay and prevent tooth loss.  If you cannot brush, dental diets, dental treats and chew toys can help.
  5. No Roaming:  Do not let your pet roam unattended.  They are at risk for injury, car accidents, predation and contagious disease. Poisonings from plants, mulch piles and rat baits can be fatal.
  6. Spay and neuter:  This routine and recommended procedure has come under fire due to false information on the internet.  Spaying and neutering help prevent roaming and unwanted pregnancies.  For female dogs, spaying before the first heat cycle can reduce the incidence of mammary cancer by 80%.  Every heat cycle a female cat has increases the odds of medical problems later in life by a multiple of 10.  For males, neutering prevents testicular cancer, prostatic hyperplasia and prostate infections.
  7. Pet Insurance:  If the cost of a major illness may cause you to make a life and death decision for your pet, consider pet insurance.  This can be a great resource and source of comfort and peace of mind should your pet become ill or injured.  Thanks to insurance, many pet owners have been able to provide a level of care for their pet they could not otherwise afford, rather than making the heart-wrenching decision to pet them to sleep for financial reasons.