5 Life-Lengthening Pet Health Tips


This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski BVSc (Hons)

What greater joy in life is there than the bond we share with our pets? As a pet lover, no doubt you want your pet to live a long and healthy life so that your special bond can last as long as possible.

While us humans can't offer our pets immortality, there are certainly ways to help improve your pet's overall health and longevity. I've put together 5 simple tips that are guaranteed to help your pet live a much healthier, and consequentially longer, life with you.

1 - Dental Care

It sounds simple; and it is! Good teeth will set your pet up for a healthier life.

Never underestimate how impactful oral hygeine is on the health and function of the entire body. Poor dental health can contribute to infections in the blood, heart, kidneys, and digestive system. It's really not an exaggeration to say that healthy teeth will add years to your pet's life! And the good news is that unlike many other illnesses, dental disease is completely preventable. You literally have the power to lengthen your pet's life in your (toothbrush-wielding) hands!

Ways to improve your pet's dentition include:

1. Regular tooth brushing

2. Feeding a vet-recommended dental diet

3. Dental treats (in moderation!) such as Greenies or Whimzees

4. Raw bones* and other natural firm chews.

* raw bones are not recommended for every dog. Find out more information in our article Are Raw Bones Safe for Dogs?

2 - Weight Control


Fact: Slim pets live longer.

As adorable as pudgy pets may be, obesity is no laughing matter. Being overweight can have serious health consequences for your pet including increased risk of osteoarthritis, diabetes, respiratory problems and anal gland issues. In addition, obese and overweight dogs can suffer from heat intolerance, constant discomfort, and are likely to have a reduced lifespan compared with their lean counterparts.

As a vet, I am always astounded at the common perception among pet owners that an animal is healthiest if they have 'a bit of good extra weight on them'. Actually, the contrary is true - for longevity, it's better for an animal to be a little underweight than a little overweight.

Fortunately, there's a lot you can do at home to help get your pet into shape! Just like us, it really comes down to diet, exercise, and treat restriction. But unlike us, the 'diet' part isn't too complicated and doesn't require calorie counting - simply swap to a premium weight control food and follow the feeding guidelines. (The hard work is done for you!)

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3 - Nutrition

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Most of us would agree that good nutrition is important to health - both for us and our pets. But you might not be aware just how big a difference a good quality diet can make for your pet's total wellbeing; and just how quickly you might notice the results.

Premium pet diets tend to be higher in good quality ingredients that boast a higher digestibility. Top rung diets also usually come infused with extra beneficial nutrients that nourish the joints, skin and coat, and digestive system. This is primarily why, when swapping from a supermarket food to a premium diet, pet owners tend to notice smaller stools with less odour, a shinier coat, an improvement in skin issues, and reduced hunger and food-seeking behaviour.

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4 - Parasite Prevention

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This one should go without saying. Parasites are still a very big risk for pets in Australia, but thankfully they are completely preventable!

Maintaining your pet's parasite prevention is easy and can keep them safe against some truly nasty diseases. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes and is a slow killer, often taking months or years to show symptoms. Likewise, venomous ticks can lead to a full-blown paralysis which your pet may have trouble recovering from.

Always make sure your prevention regime is up to date and completely comprehensive against all parasites. Many products are marketed as 'all-in-one' but lack cover against some worms or external parasites like ticks.

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5 - De-Stress Your Home Environment

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Creating a happy, stress-free home environment can help lengthen your pet's life by reducing overall anxiety. A reduction in cortisol levels - the hormone associated with chronic stress - can help support immunity and reduce the severity of almost any chronic condition.

So how do we make our home a tranquil, pet friendly 'zen den'?

1. Calming Pheromones - since their invention, odourless, medication-free pheromone products like Feliway and Adaptil have been very popular, successfully soothing stressed cats and dogs all over the world. Vet clinics even use plug-in pheromone diffusers to calm anxious patients in consult rooms.

2. Pet-friendly furniture - this is particularly important for cats. Cats naturally crave high surfaces to climb up and survey their 'kingdom' from, as well as scratch-friendly surfaces to shed the outer layers of their claws. Without these features in their home, cats can feel unsettled and stressed. Always provide your cat with plenty of cat furniture and scratching poles, as well as hidey holes to curl up in.

3. A comfy bed all for themselves - while many pets prefer to sleep on their owner's bed, it is still a good idea to buy your pet a comfortable bed (or two!) that they can relax on and watch you go about your business.

4. Fresh water from a fountain - A water fountain with a built in filter can encourage your pet to drink more water. This will help keep them hydrated, promoting overall health (particularly in the warmer months!)

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Further Reading

Want to read more? Check out our other articles:

Games to play with your cat in isolation

Premium pet food: is it worth it?

Dental care for dogs

Dental care for cats

What is the best dog food?

What is the best flea and tick treatment?

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