How Can We Increase The Lifespan of Our Beloved Dogs and Cats? 2024

Suzie Cyrenne
Authored by Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie is a Certified Homeopath and Co-Founder of Zumalka
, specializing in natural and holistic remedies for pets.
- Apr 22, 2024

I am often asked, “What is the most important thing I can do for my dog or cat to help him increase his life expectancy?” There are so many things we can do to keep them living longer that it is impossible for me to pick just one thing.

So here are five things, in no particular order, to really focus on so that your furry children have an extended lifespan. How long do dogs live? How long do cats live? Can you go over the "usual" average lifespan of seven years or so? These are just some of the questions that we'll go over as we go along.


Choose Your Pet’s Food Wisely

Cat eating something out of a tube.

Your cat's or dog's life is very much connected with what you feed him every day. There is a lot of competition between dog food companies right now and we and our furry loved ones are definitely the winners.

As a dog or cat ages, its dietary requirements will also change just like in humans. This is because your dog's or cat's behavior towards food evolves. Various life stages involve certain dietary needs. His nutritional intake depends on whether he belongs to large breeds or smaller ones to live longer.

A Shih Tzu getting ready to eat.

Small dogs like a Shih Tzu will have different needs compared to a Dobermann or Golden Retriever. It's not entirely true that small dogs live longer. So long as his diet is ideal and he's given preventative care, his life expectancy is going to go up. However, larger dogs or larger breeds need a lot more food compared to their smaller counterparts.

A good general rule is to avoid buying food for your furry friend at the grocery store. Stick with veterinarians and pet stores that carry only premium brands. Avoid additives, preservatives, and by-products because they can ruin a healthy diet and may even trigger illnesses.


A balanced diet helps add more years to average lifespans

Moreover, look for an AAFCO sticker on bags of food. AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials. They are a non-profit group that sets standards for dog and cat food by monitoring many factors like ingredients and manufacturing methods.

A proper diet is crucial to keep your cat or dog healthy. Pets tend to live longer if they always have access to the right food. And knowing that your pet is eating the right stuff from a young age is one way to help boost his immune system. Remember that the right diet is more than having canine or feline medicine!


A Healthy Weight is Linked With Life Expectancy

Dog walking at the beach.

A dog's or cat's life expectancy is closely associated with his weight. Allowing your dog's or cat's weight to go out of control predisposes them to multiple health problems (arthritis, diabetes, Cushing's disease, pancreatitis, heart disease, etc.) Doing this is simple: watch the calories and increase the exercise.

Believe it or not, this applies to your feline friend, too! Cats tend to be very participative in games and activities they like. Here's a bit of trivia for you. Did you know that Creme Puff was the oldest that ever lived at 38 years? That's really amazing for a cat's age! Well, this makes the phrase "how long cats live" really interesting.


Following "standards" does not equate to longer life expectancy

Don’t go solely by breed standards to determine what a healthy weight is for your pet. I had an owner yesterday bring me an extremely tall, skinny pointer that he wanted to enter in dog shows. I commented that he was a little too lean and the owner became aggravated because after we weighed him, he was 2 pounds over the “breed standard."

While purebred cats and dogs may have standards, not keeping their weight in check can have a negative effect on their average life expectancy. You may even inadvertently increase his vulnerability to age-related diseases (and hereditary illnesses) in this situation during his golden years, particularly in older cats.


The Average Lifespan Of Pets Are Connected With Good Dental Health

A cat with good dental health.

Dental disease is a silent killer. Bad bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs like kidneys, liver, and heart valves where they cause illnesses (or even complete organ failure in some cases).

We need to be really diligent with our pet’s dental care, starting at a very young age. Ideally, the day you get your new loved one, you want to start brushing their teeth. If you're like most normal people and can’t brush your dog’s teeth every day, there is still a lot that you can do for them. Feeding dry food instead of canned or a combination of dry and canned is best for their teeth.

Quite possibly the easiest way to help your dog or cat fight periodontal disease is homeopathically. With just one spray every day in their water or in their mouth, Orapet helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease. How's that convenient and helping increase your pet's life expectancy at the same time?



Keep Indoor Cats (Or Outdoor Cats) Parasite-Free

An indoor cat without parasitic infestation.

Did you know fleas can kill a small puppy or kitten by literally sucking too much blood from them? This thankfully doesn’t happen very often, but it can. A lot of time can be potentially removed from your dog's or cat's life expectancy if parasites get in the picture.

Fleas aren’t even the parasites I worry about most. Coccidia is an intestinal parasite that we are seeing even in indoor cats. A heavy coccidia infestation can be deadly, especially in very small, young puppies.

Contrary to popular opinion, outdoor cats are not the only ones prone to parasites. Indoor cats and other cats that mostly stay inside are susceptible to these unwanted visitors, too. An outdoor cat can also possibly transfer parasites to felines living indoors, particularly older cats.

It's not uncommon that wild animals like raccoons, squirrels, and birds can harbor parasites. Remember to immediately dispose of any wild animal remains that may have ended up in your yard.


There are a number of parasites to keep an eye on

A dog lying on the carpet.

On the other hand, ticks transmit all sorts of awful things (Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, etc.). Additionally, keep your dog on heartworm preventative year-round if you live in the continental United States.

Consider using our natural product Parasites and Worms, especially if you've already tried traditional veterinary medicine treatments. It works nicely for roundworms and tapeworms that usually pester dogs and outdoor cats. Mind you, litter boxes can also be possible sources of parasites that can cause infectious diseases!


Have Your Vet Do A FULL Physical Exam On Your Pet At Least Once A Year

A dog going through a routine checkup.

Notice how I won’t say anything about vaccines in this list. It drives me crazy when my staff routinely catch a dog or cat that's behind on vaccines but miss that we haven’t done a physical exam in 3 years. Easily the most important thing that I do for my patients every year is a good, THOROUGH physical exam.

I stress thoroughly because it is important. Be sure that you know and trust your veterinarian. It is ideal to be in the room with him or her while they are doing the physical exam to watch what they are doing and ask questions.

Have them explain what they are doing to you if they don’t already as they go along. This was advice that my first boss gave me right out of veterinary school, and I still do it twenty years later! This is because it may look like I am just petting their dog and cat, when in fact I’m feeling for masses, checking lymph nodes, feeling for joint fluid, etc.


A vet must be as thorough as can be regardless of your pet's age, sex, and breed

A cat relaxing.

Be sure your veterinarian isn’t just a great conversationalist and is really doing a thorough physical exam (checking all the teeth in their mouth, opening their mouth, shining a light into their eyes and ears is mandatory, feeling their entire body, putting all joints through a range of motion, etc).

A seasoned veterinarian can do a very thorough physical exam in less than five minutes because they know exactly what they are feeling for, so it doesn’t necessarily take very long, but nothing should be skipped.


Dogs and cats will have a better life if health issues are detected early

A dog out on a hike.

Catching heart murmurs early allows you to begin medication earlier, thus prolonging or avoiding congestive heart failure altogether. Catching masses early allows quick removal decreasing recovery time and preventing metastasis.

Catching dental problems early saves teeth and prevents harmful bacterial showers from their mouth to organs like their heart, liver, and kidneys. Our furry loved ones age much faster than we do. The average is seven of our years equal to one of theirs. So when my patients are over eight years old, I recommend they come in every six months.

Following these five simple recommendations should keep your furry loved one with you for as long as possible! They are indeed a blessing in our lives. While it is impossible to make our animal wards live forever or make them age in human years, it is our duty to give them the best quality of life that they truly deserve.


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.

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