In general, dogs and cats, just like humans, are living longer than ever before.
Unlike people though, who suffer from heart attacks and strokes, dogs and cats have few causes of sudden death related to disease. But vets are seeing dramatic decreases in accidental deaths such as dogs and cats being hit by cars. For most dogs and cats, physical changes occur slowly as years go by.
Just like humans the life expectancy of pets is influenced by genetics, environment and nutrition. While genetics cannot be influenced, environment can be enriched, and nutrition can be optimised.
By paying close attention to environment and nutrition, you can make sure that your pet is in optimal health and help it to live the longest lifespan.
Very few animals in the wild reach old age. This is because ailing animals die because they are unable to get food or illness makes them vulnerable to predators.
Today’s pet faces few threats to life, with the exception of cruelty, so like humans they can eat too much food and take too little exercise.
To influence healthy aging, you can do three general things: enrich your dog’s environment, feed your dog the specific type of food your veterinarian recommends and in the proper quantity, and taking your pet to the vet for regular physical examination.
Make a pet’s life interesting with regular exercise and lots of short walks rather than infrquent long ones. Like humans pets need to be stimulated with games and toys. They also enjoy being groomed and massaged. Pets like warm and dry places to sleep.
As humans, if we had someone prepare meals for us that were nutritious and designed specifically for our individual needs, exercise levels, risk factors and age, we’d live healthier, and longer.
Take advice from the vet on what to feed your pet – these needs change with age and specific medical problems. In general, vets recommend feeding high quality nutrition that is easily digestible and easy on the internal organs. For example, thinner dogs live longer than obese dogs, so be careful to feed limited amounts of food and watch the treats. Rather than feed free choice, feed smaller meals, more frequently.
Remember that just like people pets slow down with age but they can remain active for longer with the right mental and physical stimulation.