December 29, 2014 – Is your pet going gray? Is it time for the Grecian Formula, or maybe “Just for Pets?” Has your feisty friend lost some of that get up and go? It’s a sign of the times. We can’t set our clocks by it, but around 8 – 9 years of age, our companion animals start looking different. Their eyes cloud up, their teeth show wear, their joints break down, and, just like us, their hair turns gray. It’s a sad, but inescapable milestone in the life of a pet… middle age for most.
Aging is not a disease, it’s not a sign of ill health and it’s not the end of life. It’s natures “Swan Song” signaling a move from playful youth to mild mannered maturity. It can be graceful for some, difficult for others, but for the most part… it is what it is… the silver age; a time when life becomes more docile, senior diets more digestible and doctor visits more desirable.
Programming isn’t just for computers; cells have been doing it for millions of years. Programmed cell death takes first place in the fountain of youth’s “obstacles to overcome” category, but graying of the hair, lumps and bumps, and aging of the skin are close contenders. What’s really happening, and more importantly, why?
We’re all born to die; question is, if all goes well, when. It’s all spelled out in our DNA. Should you be born into a long-lasting species (Human, Elephant, Tortoise or Bird), and your parents give you a good set of genes; you’ll not only be healthy your entire life; you’ll live longer too. Your hair and skin will still tire out about midway through life, but, the good news is, you’ll be grateful for gray a lot longer than others.
The giant breeds like the St. Bernard, Great Dane, and Wolfhound got the short end of the stick when it comes to longevity; whereas the diminutive breeds like the Poodle, Chihuahua, Dachshund and domestic cats seem to live on forever. The midsized pets seem to fall somewhere in the middle. Genetics plays the biggest role in what we become, how well we do, and when we must go, but it’s interesting to note that size does matter when it comes to length of life.
Bottom line: Going gray is great when you consider the alternative.