AR-News: Man's best friend gets longer leash on life
rondaroaring at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 10 14:00:51 EST 2004
Reuters | AFP | Sky News | The Scotsman | Photos
Saturday January 10, 03:00 AM
Man's best friend gets longer leash of life
CATS may no longer need all their nine lives while dogs are benefiting from being man's best friend because, thanks to scientific breakthroughs and nutritional advances, our pets are living longer.
According to animal welfare experts, the average life expectancy of a medium-sized dog has increased from 10-12 human years in 1994 to 12-17 today. Likewise, 21st birthday cards are no longer just the preserve of two-legged creatures, with many dogs and cats now reaching the milestone.
The trend is partially due to the vast range of pet foods now available designed to combat specific four-legged health problems, from obesity in dogs to kidney trouble in cats. Five years ago a dog owner might have put down their pet if it contracted arthritis but new drugs can now improve its longevity and quality of life.
A recent scientific breakthrough from scientists at the Waltham pet research centre in Leicestershire has also led to a better understanding of cat and dog DNA damage, which could cut cancer deaths. A new CD-Rom course at the University of Edinburgh's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is also reporting a healthy take-up rate as owners endeavour to understand their pet's canine or feline behaviour.
Doreen Graham, a spokeswoman for the Scottish SPCA, said there was no doubt that, like their human counterparts, dogs and cats were living longer.
She said: "Dogs and cats are living longer. A little while ago we were visiting a home with a 21st birthday card up which instead of being for a human was for a dog which was alongside a card for its mother's 23rd birthday. Cats are also now living well into their 20s.
"The reasons for this range from the specialised foods available which target specific health complaints and better and more widely available veterinary care than ever before.
"Arthritis is no longer incurable in dogs which can now be treated in a similar way to humans through hydrotherapy, which would not have been the norm a few years ago.
"The best advice for those who own elderly dogs and cats is always to take them to the vet for an annual health check-up so that complications can be screened and treated earlier, which means much less stress for owners and pets."
Donna Brander, a companion animal behaviourist at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said dogs were especially prone to behavioural problems in old age which could now be treated by therapists.
She said: "The general public are now much better educated about their animal's behaviour not least because dogs, for example, are no longer just seen as animals that require training, but part of the family.
"Because dogs are pack animals and, like humans, social they are prone to similar bouts of what could be called senile dementia, mainly in the form of anxiety. Dogs, from the age of 12, might become stressed when the owner leaves the house or even if it can't find its owner within the house.
"Like humans the best way to treat a dog distressed in this way is to increase its cognitive abilities which can be done by getting the dog to sleep in the same room as its owner or alongside an item of clothing.
"Because cats are solitary animals they do not suffer such problems and people also have concerns about how their dog will behave when interacting with the public."
Improvements in pet care
ALICE McVittie, 27, a self-employed New Town resident, lives with her 11-year-old golden Labrador, Zana, also known as Slug.
She says there has been a vast improvement in the range of dog treatments available, which ensures her Labrador leads an active and healthy life.
She said: "To keep and maintain Zana costs between £30-£40 a month, which includes food as well as things like worming pills, which she has every three to four months.
"My advice to any new dog owner is to sign up to pet insurance, not least because after a certain age it no longer becomes available.
"Although Zana is not a regular visitor to the vet it is very useful for the scrapes which dogs get into from time to time including in her case eating a raw salmon with lots of hooks inside and having her foot trampled on by a horse. Without pet insurance these things would be very expensive.
"When I take Zana to the vet I have noticed a big difference in what is available, with a pill or treatment to take care of almost everything.
"Fortunately Zana leads a very fit and active life which is boosted by cod liver oil once a week, an egg shell for her coat as recommend by my grandmother, and some milk.
"Although living in a city can restrict walking we are near a park which is essential for those early morning and evening walks and I go riding, too, which she comes along to so that keeps her fit. She's had 23 puppies in two litters but is in pretty good shape for it.
"There is no way I would part with her whatever the hassle about never being able to leave her on her own, as she keeps my stress levels down and is a great companion. I would think twice about getting a replacement if she dies as I would miss her personality.
"The only scare is that I was recently told she has cancer but I hope she'll keep going beyond 15."
By: EDWARD BLACK -- 10-Jan-04
Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Hotjobs: Enter the "Signing Bonus" Sweepstakes
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the AR-News