There’s no doubt that pets are a big part of American families. In fact, 70% of US households own a pet, which equates to 90.5 million homes, according to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
And while we all love our pets, we also want them to have long, healthy lives. Of course, that’s not always in our control, but there are things we can do to help them stay healthy and improve their odds.
Here are 10 tips from experts that can help lengthen your pet’s life:
1. Get Them Vaccinated
One of the simplest and most important things you can do for your pet is make sure they are vaccinated. Vaccines protect pets from deadly diseases and help keep them healthy. Rabies is a fatal disease that can be prevented with a vaccine, and other diseases such as distemper, parvo, and hepatitis can also be controlled with vaccinations. Ask your veterinarian which vaccines are suitable for your pet and ensure they stay up to date on their shots.
2. Spay or Neuter Them
Spaying or neutering your pet not only helps reduce pet overpopulation but can also help them live longer. Spayed and neutered pets have a lower risk of certain cancers and other diseases. They also tend to be less aggressive and less likely to roam, which reduces their risk of being hit by a car or getting into fights with other animals.
3. Give Them a Balanced Diet
A healthy diet is important for all pets, but it’s especially crucial for senior citizens (dogs over 7 years old and cats over 10 years old). As pets age, they become more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease. A balanced diet that is rich in nutrients can help stave off these diseases and keep your pet healthy as they age.
4. Keep Them at a Healthy Weight
Obesity is a major problem in the US, and our pets are not immune. In fact, 56% of dogs and 60% of cats in the US are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Being overweight puts pets at risk for joint problems, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Help your pet maintain a healthy weight by feeding them a balanced diet and giving them plenty of exercises.
5. Groom Them Regularly
Regular grooming is important for all pets, but it’s especially crucial for long-haired breeds. Mats and tangles can lead to skin infections, and long nails can cause joint problems. Brushing your dog’s fur also helps reduce shedding, which can be a problem for allergy sufferers. Dog grooming also gives you a chance to check for lumps, bumps, or other changes in your dog’s skin and fur.
6. Exercise Them Regularly
Regular exercise is important for all pets, but it’s especially crucial for dogs. A dog that doesn’t get enough exercise is at risk for obesity, joint problems, and behavioral issues. Exercise also helps them stay mentally sharp and can prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Take your dog for a walk or run every day, and play with them regularly to keep them healthy and happy.
7. Keep Their Teeth Clean
Did you know that dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats? That is why it is so important to keep your pet’s teeth clean. Dental disease can cause pain, infection, and even organ damage. To prevent dental disease, brush your pet’s teeth regularly with pet-specific toothpaste and take them to the vet for annual dental checkups and cleanings.
8. Take Them to the Vet Regularly
Preventative care is crucial for all pets, but it’s especially important for senior citizens. As pets age, they are more susceptible to disease and health problems. That is why it is so important to take them to the vet for regular checkups and screenings. This will allow your vet to catch any problems early and start treatment before it becomes serious.
9. Microchip Them
Microchipping your pet is one of the best things you can do to ensure their safety. If your pet ever gets lost, a microchip can help them be returned to you quickly and safely. Microchips are also required by many shelters and rescues, so it’s a good idea to get one even if your pet never goes outside.
10. Keep Their Environment Clean
Pets are exposed to bacteria and viruses every day, so it’s important to keep their environment clean. This means regularly cleaning their bedding, toys, food, and water bowls. It also means keeping your house clean and free of clutter. A clean environment will help reduce your pet’s exposure to disease and make them happier and healthier.
Pets are a part of the family, and just like we want to take care of our loved ones, we want to take care of our furry friends as well. By following these 10 tips, you can help keep your pet healthy and extend its lifespan.