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Senior Pets in the Spotlight this June (2004)

With the high quality of veterinary care and nutrition available today, pets are living longer and an estimated four out of ten pets are seniors, aged around seven years and older. 
 
Senior pets have a much higher risk of developing old-age diseases such as arthritis, kidney disease and canine Alzheimer’s.  Warning signs of these problems include bad breath, sleeping more, increased urinating and drinking, and changes in weight and behaviour.
 
June is national Hill’s Senior Pet Month, a nationwide campaign to educate owners on how best to care for pets aged around seven and older.
 
Appropriate care of senior pets, including a simple switch to a food specially formulated for senior pets, can slow down ageing and help prevent the development of old-age diseases. 
 
“Symptoms of old age diseases are often only evident once there has been significant internal damage, so don’t wait until your pet has visible warning signs before switching to senior diet and scheduling a senior health check,” advises Dr Guy Fyvie, Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s veterinary consultant. 
 
“For example, kidney disease, one of the most common diseases amongst older cats and dogs, will only show symptoms once 75% of kidney function is lost.  Switching at seven to a food that will help spare the kidneys is vital to make sure your pets stay healthy as they grow older,” he warns.
 
A senior diet should contain higher levels of superior antioxidants, high-quality protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and optimum levels of fibre. It should also be enriched with glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate to help support healthy joints and cartilage.  Hill’s Pet Nutrition offers all of these in the Science Diet Senior 7+ range, available in kibbles and cans. 
 
To find out about important senior health checks, age-appropriate exercise and optimum nutrition for pets aged seven years and older chat to your vet or call the Hill’s Pet Nutrition toll-free Careline on 0800 228 783. 


 
FACT BOX 1 - FAST FACTS ON SENIOR PETS
 

  1. Pets become seniors at around the age of seven years.
  2. A seven year old pet is equivalent to a 50 year old person.
  3. Switching to a food specially formulated for senior pets can slow down the development of old age diseases.
  4. Senior pets are at a higher risk of diseases including arthritis, kidney disease and canine brain ageing (doggie Alzheimer’s).
  5. Well cared for pet dogs can live for between 10 and 15 years, and cats slightly longer, about 13 to 15 years.
  6. An estimated 40% of pets are seniors.
  7. One of the oldest cats recorded, Ma, lived to 34 years.
  8. The oldest recorded dog, an Australian cattle dog called Bluey, lived to 29 years.
  9. Disease is detected in 23% of senior pets who have a senior health check, even though they appear healthy.
  10. Veterinarians recommend that senior pets have a veterinary check up every six months.  Six months is the equivalent of 3 to 4 years in your pet’s life.

 

FACT BOX 2 – Early Warning Signs for Senior Pets
 
Does your older pet?
 
           Drink more water
           Have difficulty going to the toilet
           Want to urinate more often
           Have bad breath
           Change weight rapidly (losing weight or increasing in weight)
           Eat less or more
           Behave differently
           Have difficulty hearing or respond more slowly
           Sleep more or seem depressed
 
These are all signs of age-related conditions, which can be treated, but the sooner the better.  If you have answered yes to any of these questions consult your local veterinarian for expert advice.
 
 
Ends
 
Written and issued by Paula Wilson Media Consulting for Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
For media queries or visuals please contact Cathy Williams on (021) 782 2847 / 084 682 2847 or Paula Wilson on (021) 789 1904 / 082 659 9187.