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Tips to Help Your Pets Live Their Fullest & Longest Lives
Being able to spend the most time with our furry family members brings years of pleasure and enjoyment, from seeing your children playing fetch with Fido to your cat curling up and sleeping on your lap on a cold winter’s day.
Just like humans, we cannot predict how long our pets will live. However, that does not mean we cannot provide them proper care so they can live their fullest, longest lives possible with help from our animal hospital in Fort Collins.
What Is the Average Lifespan of Dogs & Cats?
There are several factors that help determine the average lifespan of dogs and cats, including:
- History of Disease and Illness
- Time Spent Outdoors
Taking these factors, as well as others into consideration, the average lifespan for most dogs falls between 10 and 14 years. This is not to say there are not dogs that pass away before reaching 10 and others that live longer.
With cats, one factor that alters their average lifespan is whether they live full-time indoors or spend part of the time outdoors. Cats are not supervised like dogs when they go outside. As such, there are numerous risk factors affecting their lifespan.
On average, outdoor cats will live around five years. Indoor cats, on the other hand, average between 13 and 17. Again, that is not to say there are not outdoor cats that will live well beyond five years of age or there are not indoor cats that pass away before reaching their 13th birthday. Some indoor cats will even live into their twenties!
Part of determining how long your dog or cat will live is based on the type of pet wellness care they receive throughout their lifetime.
Wellness Care for Dogs
Wellness care for dogs encompasses more than just annual visits to their veterinarian in Fort Collins to get their shots. A balanced wellness program for your dog should include:
- Nutrition – Dogs need proper nutrition from the time they are puppies and well into their senior years. As they age, their nutritional needs will change, so their diets need to be adjusted. Proper diets ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they require for healthy skin, bones, teeth, gums, digestion, vision, hearing, and heart health.
- Dental Care – Dogs are prone to gum disease and periodontal disease, just like humans. These diseases are the result of plaque deposits being left on the teeth and hardening into tartar. Over time, the tartar can cause gum irritation and slowly progress into gum disease first, then periodontal disease later.
Having their teeth cleaned annually will help prevent these problems or manage them if they are already present. Cleaning processes are similar to when you go to the dentist, except dogs are put under general anesthesia so they are relaxed and comfortable.
- Grooming – Dogs need to be bathed to keep their skin clean and prevent skin infections, dermatitis, and other such conditions. Dogs also need to be brushed to prevent their fur from matting up.
- Wellness Exams – Annual wellness exams allow your dogs to be examined by their vet. Your dogs’ vet will review their current health and compare this to their last visit. Your dogs will receive a complete physical, just like you do at your wellness exams. In addition, any vaccines and lab work they require will be completed.
Wellness Care for Cats
Did you know there are more cat pet parents than dog pet parents? Even though there are more cats in homes across the country, twice as many cats compared to dogs will never even see a veterinarian.
Additionally, about 41% of cats only see a vet for vaccinations, and 39% only see a vet if they are sick. Unfortunately, infrequent vet visits affect the longevity of cats and how long they could live. Cats need to see vets annually for wellness exams, just like dogs.
- Nutrition – Cats have specific nutritional needs based on their age. Some pet parents think soft cat foods are perfect for their feline friend. However, soft foods do not help remove plaque or keep the teeth strong.
Dry food helps remove plaque and keeps their teeth strong and healthy. Cats should be fed dry foods most of the time and soft foods only as treats from time to time. Furthermore, their nutritional needs will change as they progress from kittens to adults, to seniors.
- Dental Care – Cats need annual veterinary services teeth cleanings to remove tartar and plaque, just like dogs. Otherwise, they can develop more serious dental problems, as discussed in the previous section.
- Grooming – Most cats have an aversion to water, so bathing them is out of the question. Not to mention, cats spend a large amount of their time grooming themselves on their own, so water-based baths are normally not required.
However, there are “dry” shampoo and conditioner products your vet can recommend to help keep your cat’s skin and fur clean. These products may be recommended if your cats spend part of their time outdoors or have skin conditions or other such problems. Brushing is also beneficial if you can get your cats to sit still.
- Wellness Exams – Comprehensive cat wellness exams allow your cats to be thoroughly examined by their vet. The vet gives your cats a complete physical, updates their vaccines and other shots, and performs any necessary lab work to check for illnesses and diseases.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Pets
Pets that live full-time indoors often live healthier and longer lives. With dogs, it can be difficult to keep them inside all the time because they need to go outside for walks, to play, and to use the bathroom. With cats, it is merely the pet parent’s decision whether they want to let their feline loose outdoors.
Any pet that spends any amount of time outdoors encounters a wide array of pests and exposure to potential diseases and illnesses, including:
As such, your pet can require additional vaccines and preventative medications, such as flea, tick, and heartworm prevention medications, and so on during their pet wellness visits.
Tips for Keeping Dogs and Cats Healthy
Healthy pets tend to live longer and bring us that many more years of their company and enjoyment.
- Make sure they get plenty of exercise. Daily exercise helps burn calories, strengthens the cardiovascular and circulatory systems, and prevents excess belly fat.
- Do not overfeed your pets. Monitor the amount of food you feed your pets by measuring it out based on your vet’s recommendations. Avoid feeding your pet one big meal, but, instead, make sure they are given two or three smaller meals throughout the day.
- Keep your pets hydrated. Make sure your pets have access to fresh water all of the time.
- Use the right pet foods. There is debate about what foods are the best. The thing to remember is that most pet food manufacturers will market pet foods like people food, based on current trends.
So gluten-free, non-GMO, and other such human trends are not necessarily the best for your pets. Your vet at our animal hospital in Fort Collins can recommend a high-quality food based on your pet’s nutritional needs.?
- Make play a part of every day. Play with your pet for about a half hour each day. Not only will they appreciate the one-on-one attention, but also it helps humans alleviate stress and relax after a long day at work.
For more information about proper wellness care for your dog or cat, including nutrition, pet wellness checkups, and dental care, please feel free to contact Advanced Animal Care of Colorado at 970-493-3333 today! We proudly serve pet parents in Fort Collins and the surrounding areas.