James R. Speiser, DVM, DABVP, CCRT
January 20, 2016
Many of us are very attached to our pets. They give us unconditional love and are part of the family. So naturally we want them to be around for as long as they can! But in order to do that, what can you do to better enhance and prolong your pet’s life? We’ll tell you:
- Feed your pet the correct volume of a good premium commercial food. A homemade diet of meat and grains will not be superior to a premium commercial diet. Feed an amount that maintains an ideal weight for your pet, which may be more or less than the recommended amount of food on the can or box. Each pet is an individual and will require a different caloric intake based on their lifestyle.
- Don’t let your pet play outside unsupervised. The common denominator that we see in the emergency room at IndyVet for animals being traumatized (hit by cars, buses, trucks, other animal bites, etc.) is that they were allowed outside without supervision. While supervision does not eliminate all risk of getting away and experiencing a traumatic injury, it does eliminate a significant amount of risk! Traumatic injury is the number one cause of mortality in young dogs and cats.
- Spay or neuter. Spaying or neutering your pet eliminates all significant reproductive diseases as well as certain cancers that are related to testosterone or estrogen stimulation. Additionally, female dogs are not at risk of developing life-threatening complications associated with having puppies.
- Don’t feed table scraps. While human food is not generally poisonous to pets, there are certain foods that are toxic that you might not be aware of until it’s too late. Grapes, raisins and xylitol sweetener are a few that are toxic to dogs and cats. Non-toxic table scraps such as high-fat meat scraps and gravies can predispose pets to pancreatitis.
- Don’t forget to give heartworm and flea preventative medications. Fleas are vectors for many bloodborne diseases, and a severe infestation can cause life-threatening anemia. Heartworm is a completely preventable disease spread by mosquitoes and will cause heart failure if not prevented or treated quickly. By giving oral medicated treats containing preventative medications that prevents heartworm and severe flea infestations, pets are much more likely to live a longer healthy life.
- Provide daily exercise. Daily exercise is essential in maintaining good cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, as well as keeping a normal lean body weight. Pets that are couch potatoes, sometimes like their human counterparts, tend to be overweight and unfit. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise chasing a ball, running at a bark park or jogging with the master, will pay dividends in longevity.
- Don’t neglect regular dental care. Regular dental care by brushing your pet’s teeth daily (or at least every other day) and providing regular dental cleanings will reduce gum disease that can cause the pet to squeeze bacteria into the small capillaries of their gums every time they eat. Nobody would think getting a small injection of bacteria with every meal would be a healthy thing to do…and it isn’t. Regular dental care prevents this from happening.
If you’re following these seven tips, rest assured you are taking great care of your pet and better yet, for many years to come!