The routine veterinary care decisions you make today can help add healthier and happier years to your pet’s life. A dog’s average life span is 11.2 years—slightly longer for small dogs and shorter for large and giant breeds. An indoor cat’s average life span is 10 to 15 years. However, pet owners want more time with their beloved companions. Extending your pet’s life span to enjoy more quality time with them can be a reality. The small changes you make today in your pet’s veterinary care routine can make an enormous impact on their longevity. Learn how to help your furry friend live a longer and healthier life by implementing our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital and Mobile Services team’s five steps to enhanced pet health.
#1: Ensure your pet receives routine wellness care
Your pet’s annual veterinary examination and diagnostic tests are more than simply standard procedure. Your pet’s annual visit with your veterinarian is an opportunity to ensure your furry pal is in good health, identify early or hidden disease, and address small problems before they become big concerns. Routine screening tests such as fecal floatations and heartworm tests ensure your pet is parasite-free, while annual blood work analyzes their internal health and organ function.
In addition to fact-finding, your pet’s annual physical exam is a great time to speak with your veterinarian about any concerns you have regarding your furry pal, including behavior and training, grooming and hygiene, nutrition, and development or age-related changes. Your veterinarian’s extensive medical knowledge—and personal experience with your pet—ensures you will receive personalized guidance to care appropriately for your beloved companion at every life stage. With our convenient in-hospital and mobile service care options, our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital and Mobile Services team makes staying up-to-date on your pet’s annual preventive care easy.
#2: Have your pet spayed or neutered
Spaying or neutering your pet at the veterinarian-recommended time prevents unwanted litters and reduces pet overpopulation. The procedure enhances your pet’s quality—and quantity—of life. Spaying or neutering has long-reaching, life-extending benefits that include:
- Reduced risk for certain cancers — Spayed female pets experience a reduced mammary cancer risk. Neutered male pets experience a reduced testicular cancer risk.
- Eliminates heat cycles — A female’s heat cycles can attract male pets to your home and yard, and cause your female pet to demonstrate temporary behavioral changes.
- Eliminates risk for reproductive problems and emergencies —Spayed females do not become pregnant, which prevents them from experiencing health dangers such as delivery problems (i.e., dystocia), pyometra, uterine prolapse, and neonatal distress or complications.
- Less hormone-driven behavior — Spayed or neutered pets are generally calmer and less likely to engage in territorial behavior (e.g., urine marking, fighting, roaming), making them more enjoyable and healthier companions.
- Fewer health problems — Spayed female pets experience a reduced uterine infection risk. Neutered male pets experience a reduced prostate enlargement (i.e., hyperplasia) risk.
#3: Pay attention to your pet’s dental health
Dental health is an important indicator of your pet’s overall health. Unchecked dental disease can cause your pet significant oral pain and widespread damage to their kidneys, liver, and heart. Dental disease is pets’ most commonly diagnosed preventable disease. By 2 years of age, 80% of cats and 70% of dogs have some form of dental disease. Because most damage occurs below the gumline, many pets suffer in silence until irreparable damage (e.g, root, bone, tooth loss) occurs.
Routine dental care is the only proven method to prevent or minimize pets’ dental disease. Your pet’s dental care regimen should include:
- Toothbrushing with a pet-safe toothpaste at least three times a week
- Annual dental examinations at Woodinville Veterinary Hospital and Mobile Services
- Dental X-rays and cleanings under anesthesia as recommended by your veterinarian
- Feeding dental treats (e.g., C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews)
- Refraining from providing hard animal bones and plastic chew toys, which commonly cause dental fractures
#4: Exercise daily to engage your pet’s body and mind
Daily activity enhances your pet’s physical and emotional health. Regular exercise prevents obesity—a common cause for pets’ shortened life spans—reduces disease and illness risk, and may slow the aging process. In addition to supporting strong muscles and cardiovascular health, consistent and appropriate exercise can improve your pet’s behavior better. While you may not directly correlate your pet’s misbehavior with longevity, consider this: Behavior issues are the most common reason dogs are taken to a shelter, and is the number-one cause of death for dogs under age 3, according to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. Engage your pet’s mind by letting your dog sniff while you are on your walk, teach your pet a new trick, or try engagement activities such as food-dispensing toys, puzzles, or these do-it-yourself (DIY) challenges for dogs and cats.
#5: Fuel your pet with a portion-controlled, balanced diet
According to Purina’s 14-year life span study, dogs who ate a calorie-restricted diet (i.e., a portion that satisfied their daily energy requirements but was 25% less than the unrestricted control group) lived 1.8 years longer on average (i.e., 15% longer) than their control group littermates. The lean-fed dogs also had a lower rate of hip dysplasia and a delayed onset of chronic disease.
To achieve and maintain a lean body weight, all pets should eat a nutritionally balanced, portion-controlled diet. Overweight and obese pets have a significant chronic disease risk, including cancer, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. Contact our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital and Mobile Services team for healthy food recommendations, or if you need help calculating your dog’s or cat’s correct food portion.
Although your pet’s life span is finite, you can add years to your beloved companion’s life and more life to their years by following a few simple steps to improve their health span—the time during which they are healthy, happy, and discomfort-free. To learn more about enhancing your pet’s quality of life for years to come, contact our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital and Mobile Services team to schedule your furry friend’s next visit.
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