The family pet can become the center of daily life and routine, from the minute you bring it home. Before too long, you cannot live without your happy, furry friend. The thought of their demise causes tears in the eyes of many an animal lover and owner. Because of their importance and the attachment we create with our animals, owners want to know ‘how can I extend the life of my cat or dog, when their lives are so short in comparison to ours?’
Longevity becomes a simple recipe made up of easy upkeep and consistency. Here are some suggestions for how to help your pet live a longer, healthier life:
Regular Check Ups
An animal’s health changes over time, so yearly check-ups and vaccinations, become critical to aid in preventing disease and allowing your veterinarian to identify any changes in health.
Dog vaccinations help prevent: canine distemper, adenovirus cough, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, leptospirosis and racheobronchitis (kennel cough) to name a few common viruses and bacteria.
For cats, two classifications exist for cat vaccines- core and non-core. Core vaccines protect against rabies, feline distemper (panleukopenia), feline calici virus, and feline herpes virus type I. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat's lifestyle. Indoor cats and outdoor cats are exposed to different organisms, so a licensed veterinarian will recommend the best vaccination for your dog or cat based on its lifestyle.
Your animal should receive annual teeth cleanings by a professional. Because 2/3 of the animals’ teeth lay hidden beneath the gums a qualified professional will be better able to clean areas not easily reached by daily or frequent brushing. Animals, like humans, can develop gum disease. Remember, keeping the gateway to the body clean and healthy inspires a healthy body.
Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, suggests providing at least one hour of down time for your animal, as being a critical element of their longevity.
Small meals provided a few times a day of healthy animal food can help sustain the life of your animal. Smaller meals prevent low blood sugar in small animals like the Maltese and Westhighland Terrier and help prevent stomach torsion in dogs, which can be deadly. Abstain from feeding your animal people food like foods with trans fats and chemicals. Quality pet food given in moderate portions can prevent a dog or cat from becoming overweight.
Register your animal, chip them, or provide them with an identification collar
Cats and dogs are explorers and hunters. And it’s possible that at some point, your animal will explore beyond the confines of your home and yard by escaping like Houdini only to be found happily bouncing around the neighborhood and taking in all the sights and sounds. Most animals will find their way back home, however, make it easy for a would-be rescuer to return your animal to you. Take the time to register your animal, provide it with identification tags and/or have a microchip implanted.
Exercise & Mental Stimulation
Different animals require different amounts of sleep and exercise.
The ASPCA suggests that regular exercise can help in a number of areas:
”Helps to reduce or eliminate the common behavior problems…, such as digging, excessive barking, chewing and hyperactivity
• Helps to keep dogs healthy, agile and limber
• Helps to reduce digestive problems and constipation
• Helps timid or fearful dogs build confidence and trust
• Helps dogs feel sleepy, rather than restless, at bedtime or when you’re relaxing
• Helps to keep dogs’ weight under control”
Different animals should be treated differently. Ask your veterinarian what type of exercise is right for your animal. Some breeds of cats and dogs are notorious sleepers who spend more time asleep than awake - - especially large breed dogs. Cats, of course, find all types of exercise with or without your participation. They enjoy the mental stimulation of toys that allow them to catch or hunt. Some cats can even be trained to play fetch and return with small balls or stuffed animals.
Very young dogs have underdeveloped ligaments, so take care not to over exercise them. As well, older animals have special needs. Dogs age at a more rapid rate than humans. Keep in mind that just because they are ‘new’ to you, they could be the human equivalent of middle or old aged. Old age can cause arthritis, osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia in dogs, so excessive exercise may not be suitable for an older animal. The Assisi™ Portable helps alleviate many of the inflammation related diseases older animals can get, so ask your vet how the Assisi™ Portable can help.
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