Taking care of your pet's heart at every age

November 27, 2014

Just like the other members of your family, pets need love, a good diet, and exercise to thrive and maintain healthy hearts. Below are some tips to ensure your pets are at their best.

Taking care of your pet's heart at every age

Up to the age of 5

These four tips will help give your pet a healthy start.

  1. Feed your young pet high-calorie puppy or kitten food for the first year and then switch to adult formulas.
  2. Stick to the recommended amount of food based on your pet's weight. This information is available on the pet food package.
  3. Establish a regular exercise routine for dogs that involves running and jumping. Dogs need aerobic exercise to stay heart healthy, just like humans.
  4. Use toys and towers that encourage cats to move. If possible, let your cat have some outdoor time.

The mature pet

As pets age, they often become less active. Pets over the age of six tend to exercise less and gain weight. Here's what you can do to keep a mature pet's heart healthy:

Keep an eye on his/her waistline and weight

Weigh your pet every month and measure around the largest part of his or her stomach. Measure an increase in stomach fat or weight regularly. Like humans, pets usually gain weight and fat gradually, and may put on a few pounds a year. This may not seem significant, but it adds up if you multiply it by several years. Eventually, your pet could be dealing with heart-damaging obesity if not monitored.

Adjust diet and exercise

A mature 35-pound dog needs about 800 to 1,000 calories per day to maintain weight, depending on the activity level. A cat needs about 20 to 30 calories a day per pound of weight. A 10-pound cat would need 200 to 300 calories a day to maintain his or her weight level.

If your dog or cat is gaining weight, the choices are simple: fewer calories and/or more exercise. Special "weight control" foods formulated for mature pets contain higher amounts of protein and fewer calories. Consult your vet before you make a change to your pet's diet.

Deal with the problems of aging

As they age, dogs and cats develop the same kinds of aches and pains as humans. Canine or feline arthritis is a common condition in older pets. Your vet can provide advice on diet and medication, but you should aim to keep the pet as active as possible.

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