The fact that we typically outlive our pets is a difficult topic for many animal lovers. However, why not make the most out of each day you have? There are ways to increase your cat or dog’s life expectancy. And if you’re like us, you’ll go the extra mile to keep your beloved pet in the family as long as possible.
Keep reading to learn how you can keep your pet healthy and active. We look at everything from joint health to safety measures.
Let’s get started!
If Love Could Heal Them, They’d All Live Forever
Our pets bring joy to our life that is often unexplainable. Dogs and cats show their humans an unconditional love that leads to deeply connected bonds. If we could keep our pets forever, we would. So, is there a way to extend the lives of our dogs and cats?
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to increase the life expectancy of your dog or cat. This is done by ensuring they stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
What Is the Average Dog Life Expectancy?
The life expectancy of a dog can vary depending on various factors, including breed, build, size, overall health, and human interventions. On average, dogs live between 10 and 13 years.
Smaller dogs tend to live longer than large breeds. For example, Miniature Schnauzers often live beyond 14 years old. Their leading cause of death is heart disease. So, weight control and dental health can help them live longer. There are many breed-specific health conditions that you can watch out for and actively work against.
What Is the Average Cat Life Expectancy?
Cats’ average life expectancy is between 13 and 17 years when they live indoors. In contrast, outdoor cats often have shorter lifespans due to risk factors such as predators. They live between two to seven years, on average. Indoor-outdoor cats’ life expectancy is up to ten years on average if they’re well cared for.
Some cat breeds are at higher risk of health issues than others, which can lower their life expectancy. For example, Persian cats are suspectable to kidney disease and cancer. They have an average lifespan of 13.5 years.
Pro Tip: Our indoor-outdoor cats have lived 15-18+ years with a 7 PM curfew to keep them indoors overnight.
10 Ways To Increase the Life Expectancy of Your Beloved Pet
There are ways to increase your dog or cat’s life expectancy. Let’s look at ten methods that can positively contribute to the health and wellness of your pet.
1. Follow a Vet-Recommended Nutrient-Rich Diet
Vet-recommended and nutrient-rich diets can directly contribute to your pet’s quality of life. Think of the food you put in your dog or cat’s body as similar to what you put in your body. The reality is for both humans and our pets, foods high in fat and calories that you’ll find at places like McDonald’s aren’t going to prolong life.
Raw and homemade food diets are trending for pets. But do they increase life expectancy? In 2003, Belgian researchers Bruno Sapy and Dr. Gerard Lippert published a study on 522 dogs during a five-year period. It showed that diet is a primary contributor to increasing a dog’s lifespan, and a homemade food diet had the most significant impact. The animals that received homemade, human-grade food lived an average of 13.1 years. In comparison, the dogs that ate industrial food reached an average of 10.4 years. And those that ate a mixture of homemade and canned food lived, on average, 11.4 years.
2. Avoid Obesity
Keeping your cat or dog at the weight your veterinarian recommends can help increase its life expectancy. And regular exercise directly affects a pet’s overall health. For example, a study on Labrador Retrievers found that when dogs are kept at a healthy weight, they can live up to two years longer than overweight canines.
Diet and exercise contribute to weight. And that means refraining from feeding too many treats. Generally, treats shouldn’t make up more than 10 percent of your pet’s daily calorie intake. Treats also typically lack the nutritional value of pet food. So, too many can contribute to obesity, and they’re not a healthy source of calories.
3. Maintain Joint Health
Maintaining joint health can help increase your pet’s quality of life. Weight management and exercise can promote good joint health. Feeding your pet food with natural glucosamine also supports joints, as it builds cartilage. Healthy cartilage allows joints to work better and longer.
Glucosamine is a natural compound found in cartilage. Dogs need about 500mg daily per 25 pounds of body weight. The best source of glucosamine is chicken feet, shellfish shells, or bone broth.
4. Address Dental Health Issues
Dental health is vital for dogs and cats. Taking care of your pet’s teeth can be a life-or-death issue. Plague buildup and tooth decay can lead to gum diseases and infections that can then spread to other areas of the body. Mouth pain can also make eating hurt, and your cat or dog may stop eating properly and start losing weight. Getting issues treated and preventing additional problems can prolong an animal’s life.
For example, our rescue dog recently underwent surgery for a broken tooth. The medical emergency could have shortened his life if we didn’t address it. The pain he was experiencing before the problem was corrected was likely affecting his entire body and taking years off his life. Now, his mouth is healed and his body is regaining strength and health to sustain him.
Furthermore, prevention is critical as dental work can be costly. Our dog’s surgery cost over $1,700. Brushing your dog or cat’s teeth daily is recommended by most veterinarians, as well as routine checkups and cleanings.
5. Keep Your Pet Stimulated with Play
Like with people, mental health in pets is also important. A happy cat or dog equals a healthy pet. Playing with your pet does a few things. It keeps it stimulated and active. The activity also helps you bond. And thirdly, it allows you to monitor your pet more closely. For example, you’re likely to see any red flags of an injury or changes in behavior during playtime. You address issues that arise immediately, which in turn can help increase your cat or dog’s life expectancy.
6. Schedule Regular Check-Ups
We can’t stress enough how important regular vet check-ups are for your cat or dog. And when your pet is sick, be sure to act fast. Most cities have an emergency animal hospital you can call if your pet has a health problem outside regular business hours.
Be sure to schedule your pet’s annual vaccines. It’s also essential to keep up with heartworm and flea and tick preventatives to avoid common diseases.
7. Microchip Your Pet
Microchipping your pet can save its life. Losing a pet can be highly stressful for them and you. A microchip is a pain-free procedure that can help reunite you if your pet were to go missing. The vet simply injects a small, radio-frequency identification transponder under the skin. It contains a unique number that you’ll register and will be associated with your pet. Any shelter, vet office, or anyone with a scanner will be able to identify who an animal belongs to based on the microchip number.
The stress of shelter life can decrease life expectancy or worse. You’ll want to ensure your pet gets back to you as fast as possible if they go missing!
8. Keep Access to Clean Water Readily Available
A dog or cat’s life expectancy increases when access to water is readily available. Hydration is of utmost importance to an animal’s health. Keep fresh, clean water wherever your pet is. For example, if you have an indoor-outdoor cat, be sure to have a water station outside and inside. Also, take water with you when you walk your dog, even for a short distance.
9. Clean Cats’ Litter Boxes Regularly
You can increase a cat’s life expectancy by cleaning its litter box regularly. Vets recommend cleaning it daily. That way, you’ll immediately notice changes to your cat’s urine, feces, or bathroom habits. For example, contact your vet if there’s blood in the urine or diarrhea. This could be a sign of health issues, such as kidney problems, if there’s blood in the urine. If your cat starts missing the litter box, you’ll notice right away.
Pro Tip: You can keep a close eye on your cat’s health by using color-changing Pretty Litter that reveals changes in pH and other health markers.
10. Love on Your Pet
At the risk of sounding too woo-woo, loving your pet can increase its life expectancy. The more care and affection an animal receives, the better quality of life it’s likely to have. Trauma and abusive situations severely damage a cat or dog’s brain and body. It’s not too unlike what unhealthy situations can do to humans.
Frequent snuggle sessions and pets will also reveal any changes to their muscle tone, new lumps, tender spots, or other injuries. You’ll be surprised how quickly your fingers will pick up any abnormalities as they move over your pet’s fur.
Oldest Cats and Dogs Ever Recorded
If you really want to set your dog or cat’s life expectancy goal high, check out the oldest cats and dogs ever recorded. Oh, how we wish all our furry friends could stay with us for this long.
The oldest dog on record is Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo. The breed is a Portuguese livestock guardian dog. He lived to be 30 years and 266 days old. Bobi entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2023. He lived with the same family since he was born in Portugal.
The oldest cat ever was 38 years and three days old. Her name was Creme Puff, and she lived in Austin, Texas. She entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2005.
Increase Your Pet’s Life Expectancy and the Time You Get to Share
Sometimes things happen beyond our control, but doing some of these things can help increase your cat or dog’s life expectancy so you get to share the most time possible. We know how precious your pets are to you, and every minute with them is wonderful. Let’s make sure it’s just as amazing for them by helping them live long and healthy lives.
How old is your pet? And what are you doing to increase its life expectancy? Share in the comments below.
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