The Golden Years

Ok, so old age isn't for wimps. I'm 18, I should know. I may be blind, deaf and arthritic, but I still have a lust for life as well as for my teddy bears. Don't even THINK about putting us oldsters down, but pamper us and help us to live happy lives as long as we can. You will be surprised how tenaciously we cling to life. There are a few steps you can follow to ensure that our later years are indeed, golden.

  1. Have your vet. do a blood scan and a complete set of x-rays when your coon is middle aged. Then, when he becomes ill, he can compare current scans and x-rays for changes. This is the best diagnostic tool he has.

  2. If your coon becomes blind, DON'T rearrange the furniture. Carpet any stairways that must be climbed. This lets us get a better grip on the edges as we descend. Blindness is not a big deal to me. I've always relied on my senses of smell and touch before sight and sound.

  3. Build ramps or steps leading up to beds or favorite furniture if your coon becomes arthritic.

  4. If your coon is deaf, don't sneak up on him without warning. That's a good way to get bitten. I hate being startled. Deafness is no biggie either. Now I have an excuse for not coming when called.

  5. Learn to be a champion turd interpreter. I kid you not. Examine your coon's feces everyday. They should be firm, brown and plentiful (the color may vary slightly depending on what was eaten the day before). If your coon's turd is light colored or white, suspect liver problems. If they're the color and consistency of caramel pudding, suspect a gastrointestinal upset or toxicity. If the output is as hard and small as a bite sized tootsie roll, your coon may well be constipated. If the stool is black, suspect blood in it or a super sized serving of blueberries for dinner the night before.

  6. If your coon is frequently panting and the temperature in your house isn't 90 degrees, he has a potentially serious problem. Panting can indicate heart problems, particularly congestive heart failure. It can also be a sign of lung obstruction due to cancer, a benign tumor or infection. Another thing it could indicate is elevated blood pressure which could result in an event like a stroke.

  7. Keep your coon slim. I know that's hard to do as we get older and lazier, but just like with people, obesity causes disease and early death. We can get diabetes just like humans do. As your coon passes middle age, cut down on his protein intake and increase the fruits and vegetables in his diet. A diet high in protein can cause kidney damage.

  8. If your coon is chug-a-lugging all the water in your toilet and his water bowl too, call the vet. He's probably in kidney failure. You might want to consider a kidney transplant if your vet is willing and your coon is relatively young and you don't mind giving a home to the donor coon.

  9. If you coon looks like he swallowed a basketball but is otherwise skinny, he has a liver insufficiency problem. With proper diet and medication, he can still live years.

  10. The Big C. I've been in contact with hundreds of coons since I went on line in 1996. One of the most prevalent causes of death seems to be cancer. Any suspicious lumps should be examined by the vet. Blood values can also indicate the presence of cancer. If your coon is diagnosed with cancer, don't despair. Many cancers are slow growing and the coon may have years left to live.

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