BY JANET McAFEE

Our pets are part of our family, and we want to do everything possible to help them live long and healthy lives.  My special cat Isis lived for 24 years with good vet care that included homeopathy and healthy diet. Small dogs can easily live for 17 years or longer.  Large breed dogs have a life span of 12 to 15 years.  What are some of the things you can do to increase the time your treasured pet spends on this earth?

  1. FEED A HIGH QUALITY DIET

Pets that are fed a high quality pet food have shiny coats, healthy skin, and bright eyes.  They have a stronger immune system, good intestinal health, better mental acuity, and healthier muscles and joints.  Some pet owners are opting to make their own pet food.  Healthy recipes are available on the internet by Googling “healthy pet food recipes”.  Venus de Fido and Pet Oasis have knowledgeable staff who can direct you to the best brands for particular animals.  PetSmart and PetCo carry a wide variety of the healthier brands. 

Some dog owners are switching to “grain free” products which they believe lessens the risk of food allergies.  Grain free dog food more closely mimics a dog’s ancestral high protein diet.  Avoid some of the multi-colored “cheap grocery store” brands filled with dyes and unhealthy additives.

  1. WATCH YOU PET’S WEIGHT!

Overweight cats and dogs are at higher risk of disease and health issues.  Obesity puts a strain on joints, and causes severe knee and back conditions.  The risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other serious illnesses medical problems is increased for overweight animals.  Don’t give in when Fluffy pleads for extra treats. 

  1. GET REGULAR VETERINARY CARE
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Ensure that your pets receive their annual vaccinations.  An annual visit to your vet for a routine examination may uncover unknown health issues that need to be treated, and an early diagnosis will enhance your pet’s recovery.

  1. KEEP YOUR PET’S MOUTH CLEAN

Oral health issues can cause your pet pain and make it difficult for him to eat.  Untreated oral issues can lead to heart and kidney disease.  Teeth cleaning, performed under sedation by your veterinarian is an option if you can afford it.  Meanwhile, pick up a toothpaste and brush kit made specially for cats or dogs and learn to brush their teeth. 

  1. DON’T LET YOUR PET ROAM FREE

The life expectancy of cats is greatly reduced if they are allowed outside.  Pets that roam the neighborhood are susceptible to many dangers including predators, theft, automobile accidents, exposure to poisons, and exposure to contagious disease. 

PHOTO OF JOHN AND SCHOEP

John Unger and his 19-yr-old shepherd mix dog Schoep became a Facebook sensation due to this lovely photo. Schoep loved his dips in Lake Superior, and the warmth and buoyancy of the water soothed his arthritis.  This photo of Schoep in John’s arms touched the hearts of animal lovers everywhere, and donations poured in to provide Schoep with expensive laser treatment and daily glucosamine pills.  Scheop lived another 20 months, enjoying their walks through the Wisconsin woods.  In July, 2013, John posted, “I breathe, but I can’t catch my breath.  Schoep passed away yesterday.”  John set up the Scheop Legacy Foundation to help low income pet owners with the remaining donations.

State of the art medical care helped extend Schoep’s life.  This dog’s longevity was also a result of the loving bond that John and Schoep shared.  Provide your pet with loving attention, and the bond you share will nurture his spirit and keep his body healthy.

Jmcafee7@verizon.net