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Your Pets Will Live longer with Better Pet Care
February 7th, 2013

Courtesy of Amanda Baltazar at PetSide.com

With a little more care, we can ensure our pets not only have healthier lives but also stay around and keep us happy for longer. Here are a few steps you can take to extend your pet’s life span and keep them healthy and happy.
 
1. Maintain good dental health by taking care of your pet’s teeth.
 
Dental health in dogs and cats should be a priority for pet owners, as poor oral health can lead to other complications throughout the body down the line.The bacteria from plaque buildup in the mouth can be swallowed and in turn affect the functioning of the internal organs, causing the animal pain (in its organs and mouth). Overall, poor dental health can lead to a less comfortable life for a pet and a shorter one as well.
 
A vet should check out your dog or cat’s teeth at about eight weeks old and thereafter about twice a year, advises Dr. Jon Woodman, DVM, a veterinarian and owner of Town & Country Veterinary Services.
 
2. Feed your pets high quality foods.
 
High quality foods can help contribute to your pet’s overall health and wellbeing. Try to seek foods that contain natural ingredients and omega 3 fatty acids. These are said to help with brain development, heart health, joints, skin health and coat. They’re also anti-inflammatories which can help prevent certain diseases in younger pets, Woodman says.
 
3. Avoid pet obesity by monitoring your pet’s eating habits.
 
While many people don’t think about obesity as it applies to pets, it is a major problem amongst dogs and cats. Pet obesity is a health hazard that leaves animals at risk for various complications, including conditions the likes of diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory issues and kidney disease. Be sure not to overfeed them.

Also take into account the treats you give your pet, a leading contributor to weight gain. “That’s one of the biggest mistakes I see,” Woodman cautions. “By the end of the day [a pet] could get a whole bowl of treats.”
 
4. Keep your pet trim with exercise and activity.

The amount of exercise your pet needs depends on whether it’s a cat or dog and for the latter, which breed it is, says Dr. Anne Hohenhaus,DVM, DACVIM, a staff veterinarian with The Animal Medical Center, New York.
 
Typically, dogs need at least one walk a day, and it’s also a good idea to provide some exercise in your home, too. Simple games like throwing a ball or toy (or even throwing it up and down stairs to really get your pooch moving) or using a laser pointer will raise your pet’s heart rate and the pounds she sheds.
 
If you live in an apartment you can build your pet’s exercise into your day and get off the elevator a few floors early and walk the remaining flights with your dog.
 
Cats are harder to exercise but if they are indoor cats they should get some. They love climbing, Dr. Hohenhaus points out, so a multi-level cat tree is an easy way to promote movement. Cats also love to play with paper bags.
 
5. Spay and neuter your pets.

According to Woodman, neutered dogs tend to live three years longer than intact dogs. In both cats and dogs, neutering and spaying tends to lessen the chance of contracting diseases like prostate, ovarian or uterine cancer. Additionally, intact dogs and cats are also more likely to stray—especially when they’re in heat—or wander off and become lost pets.
 
6. Screen your pets for cancer.

Pay attention to any lumps and bumps on your cat, warns Dr. Hohenhaus. One in four dogs dies of cancer and cancer is the leading form of death in dogs over age two, according to the Morris Animal Foundation. Lumps and bumps almost always get bigger, Dr. Hohenhaus says. “Take your pet to your vet as soon as you feel one.”
 
7. Make regular visits to the vet with your pet.

Increase your pet’s life span and help them lead a healthy and happy life by going to the vet regularly once or twice a year
 
“It’s a chance to catch something before it gets bad,” Dr. Woodman says. “Go even if you’re not going in for other reasons. Taking your pet once or twice a year is the equivalent of a human seeing the doctor about once every seven years.”