Another aging population -- pets

November 18, 2009 9:26:37 PM PST
The graying of America is apparently more than just commentary on the aging human population. Experts say pets are living longer too.

Dr. Ann Hohenhaus is a staff veterinarian at Manhattan's very busy Animal Medical Center.

She attributes the longer lives of pets in large part to better preventive medicine, including regular checkups and more screenings -- much the same as with people.

"Dogs and cats live longer because we do good preventive health care and so they die of geriatric condition, not of juvenile infectious diseases," said Hohenhaus.

That attentive care likely helped save 11 year old lab mix, Dakota.

Chemo therapy has put his cancer in remission. Dakota's owner believes regular exercise also helps keep him healthy and living longer.

"He's pretty active. He gets walked but more important that that he goes swimming a lot. He thinks he goes fishing," John Isecke said.

Vets add that exercise is more important than ever when it comes to staving off a growing problem among older pets: obesity. Not much different than the weight issues facing people.

"With obesity comes difficulty walking, problems with arthritis, diabetes and other medical conditions that shorten the lifespan of our pets," Hohenhaus said.

Liza Wolsky's 15 year old purebred Cornish Rex, Zowie, only eats rabbit and venison. Wolsky says careful attention to her cat's diet as well as her emotional and physical well-being have likely added years to Zowie's life.

"Cats are like people. They need places to go, people to talk to and reasons to get out of bed in the morning," she said.

Wolsky believes meeting those needs and providing a loving, personal touch are key to a pet's long, happy life.

Not much different than you and me.