Tempe, Arizona (NAPSI) - It’s never too early to take steps to make life easier for your pet for when he or she hits the golden years. Just as with people, proper diet, exercise and smart lifestyle decisions can delay some of the aging process and help your pet live a longer, healthier life.

That even holds true for one of the more common problems for aging pets—arthritis. Here are some steps you can take before your pet becomes a senior to help reduce the risk or lessen the severity of arthritis:

Evaluate your pet’s body condition—Too much weight on your pet puts him or her at risk for diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Excess weight puts too much strain on your pet’s joints, causing cartilage to degenerate. If you can’t feel your pet’s ribs, your pet needs to go on a diet. Also watch how your pet moves and plays for any issues that may be developing. Work with a veterinarian or holistic professional when you first spot problems.

Read the label—Dogs and cats are carnivores and need a healthy dose of protein in their diet. Read the labels of their food and look for actual protein sources—chicken, beef and fish—instead of by-products. Rice and other grains can also help your pet pack on extra pounds. Beware of too many preservatives as well.

Get active—It’s very important to work on activities that keep your dog and cat moving. Walks, games of fetch and other activities keep your dog’s muscles toned and cut down on the risk of arthritis. It’s important to work play into your cat’s day as well to keep him or her moving, too.

An ounce of prevention—Running, agility and other active games are a great way to keep your pet in shape. However, make sure you aren’t pushing your dog to work out too hard and try to avoid activities that could put your dog at risk for bone or muscular injuries. These kinds of injuries make an animal more prone to certain types of arthritis when aging.

Start early on supplements—Nutritional supplements are a growing trend for pets these days. It helps to start your pets young on supplements that will help them rebuild cartilage before arthritis sets in. Look for products that provide glucosamine and chondroitin, such as Cosequin Joint Supplement and Cosequin Soft Chews for dogs and cats. Dasuquin Joint Supplements for dogs and cats provide a more advanced formula that helps rebuild your pet’s cartilage and lessen joint inflammation. Some of these products come in soft chews for dogs and a powder that can be sprinkled in food for cats.

Learn more at www.EntirelyPets.com.