dogs going for a walkMost of us understand that, unless your pet is a parrot or tortoise, the lifespan of our pets is significantly less than our own. Cats and dogs typically live between 10-18 years, depending on the breed. And, in some ways, quality of life certainly trumps a longer life.

While quality of life can certainly trump longevity in some instances; what if you could add another year or two to your pet’s life simply by making better decisions as a pet owner? In fact, daily care decisions do have a direct impact on lifespan and health.

7 Things You Can do to Give Your Pet a Longer Life (and Better Health)

Although we would love it if our pets lived forever, there are things you can do to encourage longevity. Many of these are easy, daily actions that don’t require fancy supplements or treatments. They simply rely on awareness of common mistakes in daily care and healthier options.

  1. Manage your pet’s weight – Pet obesity contributes to a number of secondary conditions that can shorten lifespan, including diabetes and heart disease. Portion control and exercise are essential to a healthy weight. Quality pet food is also recommended, as well as avoiding table scraps and one-too-many treats.
  2. Keep moving – Exercise and playtime doesn’t have to mean hours of walks or trips to the same old park. Change up the exercise routine to keep it interesting for both you and your pet (for example, change your walking route or signing !up for agility training).
  3. Brush, brush, brush! – Dental disease can wreak havoc on pet health and is unfortunately all too common, with more the 2/3 of all pets having dental issues by age 3. Keep your pet healthy through regular brushing (with a dog or cat formulated toothpaste).
  4. Training and socialization – Dogs who are under stress or anxiety tend to live less healthy and shorter lives, and many of these behavioral issues arise because training has been neglected. Socialization is integral to canine wellbeing and the prevention of common problems, like phobias and aggression.
  5. Bring them indoors – Cats that are allowed to stray are often subjected to numerous dangers, including being hit by a car. When you are outdoors with your pet, pay close attention to what he is potentially ingesting or getting into and provide supervision, even in the backyard.
  6. Regular pet wellness exams – Keeping up with your pet’s wellness exams helps to diagnose conditions or diseases earlier, which increases the odds of successful treatment. It’s also a great opportunity for you to ask questions and get advice on nutrition, exercise, and other care needs to enhance your pet’s life.
  7. Spay or neuter – Altering your pet increases longevity by lowering the risk of certain cancers and decreasing the likelihood of getting lost, since intact pets often want to roam when they are in estrus or heat.
  8. A lasting bond – Bonding with your pet from an early age encourages better health through deeper understanding of your pet and his or her cues. It’s also a way to ensure emotional or psychological health and wellbeing for your pet (and also for you!).

Even though there is no magic formula for a long and healthy life, there are definitely strong correlations between longevity and daily pet care choices. The choices we make as pet owners do make a difference. And, this is great news, since we all want the very best for our pets.