Hanford Veterinary Hospital Blog
The Long View: How You Can Extend Your Pet’s Lifespan
The impact pets have on our lives is huge, but did you know we have an equally powerful influence on our pet’s lives? To be sure, the extent of a pet’s wellness is not accidental, and the amount of time and energy directed towards wellness has long term results. In other words, your pet’s lifespan has a lot to do with how you care for him or her.
Cats and dogs have varying lifespans. Cats and dogs that are born wild may live 2 years – if they make it past those dangerous months of early infancy at all. Domesticated felines can live up to 20 years (and sometimes longer!), while the average dog’s lifespan is about 13.5 years (although many live well past 15).
These numbers tell the story of the meaningful relationship between people and pets and the ways in which we care for the animals in our lives.
The most important part of your pet’s life is balance. Primarily, the combination between high-quality food and daily exercise is critical to your pet’s lifespan. Obesity is a powerful contributor to reduced longevity. Associated problems, like arthritis and diabetes, also decrease quality (and quantity) of life.
Add balance to your pet’s life with the following:
- Scheduled meals that fill your pet’s stomach (not the size of the bowl)
- Measured, high-quality food
- Reducing treats
- Offering clean water throughout the day (water-filtering fountains work great)
- Pair nutrition with high-value, regular exercise (shoot for 20-30 minutes every day)
If you ever have questions or concerns about your pet’s diet or weight, we’re always happy to help.
Every week, you can take a visual account of your pet’s appearance and behavior. Stand over your pet and look for a clearly defined waist behind the ribs. If the abdomen is tucked behind the rib cage, your pet has reached optimal weight.
Other Facets Affecting Your Pet’s Lifespan
Once you’ve achieved the balancing act that is diet and exercise, your pet’s lifespan will depend on the following:
- Updated vaccinations
- Year-round parasite prevention
- Annual wellness checks
- Reducing exposure to poison and other toxins
- Safety and security (keep your cat indoors, if possible)
- Spay/neuter your pet
- Environmental enrichment
A Word on Dental Health
Easily, one of the greatest contributors toward your pet’s lifespan is keeping his or her teeth and gums sparkling clean. Daily or weekly brushing at home with a pet-safe toothpaste goes a long way toward overall health. Because of the risks associated with periodontal (gum) disease, we also recommend having your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned under anesthesia every year.
Know the Score
Awareness is one of the keys to lengthening your pet’s life. Please contact us with any questions or concerns.