Vet on Set: Five tips to keep your pet well & living longer

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For anyone who owns a pet, they know that their four legged friends are a part of the family.  Owners try to do everything possible to care for their pets, but are there things that they can do in order to extend their pet's lives?

Large dogs such as Great Danes may only live 8 or 9 years and small dogs may live for 15 to 18 years. With all pets, you want to make sure you are feeding them a high quality diet.  Don't purchase the cheapest food out there.  Do select diets that are specific for the age of your pet.  Kitten and puppy foods should be fed while they are growing because their needs are greater.  Senior  pets need lower levels of protein. There are specific diets for certain diseases like heart or kidney disease.  Your vet will select appropriate diets for your pet if they have health issues.

There are even breed specific diets.  "You are what you eat".  These breed specific diets are formulated for that breed and the shape and hardness of the kibbles are designed.  For example, Siamese cats have weak teeth and more gum disease, so the shape of the food is more like a doughnut, so it is easier to break.  The Persian cat diet is triangular shaped and easier for the flat-faced cat to pick up the pellets.

Owners will also want to keep your pet lean.  Obesity can predispose your pet to certain diseases.  For example, diabetes is more common in dogs and cats that are obese.  Studies have shown that you can shorten a pet's life by as much as two years by being obese.

In order to help owners detect if their pets have health issues, regular vet visits are important. At your semi and annual veterinary exams, make sure your vet checks your pets' eyes, ears, lymph nodes, skin, joints, palpate for tumors and dental disease.  Also check for intestinal parasites and heartworms.  They can uncover health issues that you may not be aware of.  For the senior pets, we will recommend a blood test and other tests to check the organs such as the kidneys, thyroid glands, adrenal glands and the liver.

Maintaining good oral health is also important to extending your pet's life expectancy.  Look for tumors and gum disease.  Chronic dental disease can lead to problems such as heart and kidney disease.

Keeping cats and dogs on your own property is safer than allowing them to roam free.  Indoor cats live a lot longer than outdoor cats in general;  No cat fights, dog attacks and being hit by cars.  For dogs, before we had a stringent dog leash law, we saw a lot of dogs that were hit by cars.  Those injuries were tragic.  We still see a few, so always keep your dog on a leash while walking.  We now have collars and harnesses that are lighted.  Always wear light color clothing or reflectors while walking your dog in low-light situations.

There is an Annual CFA Halloween Cat Show at McCoy Pavillion at Ala Moana Park on October 28. It is happening at 10 a.m. til 3 p.m and there will be a Cat Costume Contest, too.  The public is welcome.

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