Preparing & Caring For Your Pet’s Senior Years
Why Are Pets Living Longer?
Today, new pharmaceuticals, better nutrition and preventive veterinary care are helping pets live longer than just a few decades ago. Although senior pets may not have the energy of youth, they still have plenty of love and companionship to offer. Make sure your pet’s senior years are happy and healthy by providing the extra attention and veterinary care needed.
When Is My Pet Considered A Senior?
There is no set age when your pet officially becomes a “senior.” The aging process is influenced by breed, genetics, metabolism, veterinary care, nutrition, exercise, and whether yours is an indoor or outdoor pet. Outdoor pets are more exposed to fighting, weather changes, and disease, than indoor pets. Large breeds such as Great Danes, Retrievers, and Shepherds, tend to age faster than small breeds, such as Dachshunds, Poodles, and cats. The chart below shows the approximate age when your pet is considered a senior citizen.
What To Expect During Your Pet’s Senior Years
As your pet ages you’ll notice subtle changes. It’s important to understand normal aging versus abnormal changes in your pet’s health.
Expect These Changes
- Sleeping more
- Graying coat, especially around the mouth
- Dental & gum disease (veterinary care required)
- Deterioration of hearing & vision
- Joint inflammation & discomfort (arthritis)
- Muscle shrinkage and body weakness
- Decreased skin’s elasticity
The Importance Of Regular Check-Ups
Diagnostic screening can help prevent serious medical problems. We highly recommend that your “best friend” have a complete physical. We recommend twice yearly exams for pets 7 years and older. By establishing a baseline of normal values before the senior years, we can detect any changes that might indicate health problems. Your pet may appear healthy, yet some diseases are hard to detect, and often go unnoticed. Diagnosed early, most conditions can be completely reversed, or controlled.
How Can You Help Extend The Life Of Your Pet?
Your pet’s nutritional needs change as he grows older; intestines lose the ability to absorb nutrients, and liver and kidneys process waste products less efficiently. Feeding foods designed for his life stage can be very helpful. Regular dental care, vaccinations, parasite control, and nutrition, are all important for good health. Dental disease is common as your pet ages. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream and weaken the liver, kidneys, and heart.
An Important Message for Cat Owners
There are more than 90 million cats in the U.S., or about 20 percent more cats than dogs. However according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats are brought to the veterinarian only about HALF as often as dogs. Some veterinarians believe cats hide illness better than dogs, and many times owners may not realize there is a problem.
• Behavioral changes can be early signs of illness in both cats and dogs. These changes are often less obvious in cats.
• Cat owners may not notice subtle changes in appetite, elimination or other behavior until an illness is advanced.
• The risk of cancer, periodontal disease, obesity, kidney disease, thyroid disease and diabetes increases with age in cats.
How Does A Senior Exam Differ From A Normal Exam?
Our senior care program incorporates laboratory testing, which can be invaluable in revealing additional information concerning your pet’s overall health above and beyond what can be detected by physical examination and your personal observation.
Important Fact! Data from senior health screening exams shows that more than 22% of senior dogs, and 17% of cats that appear healthy, have been found to have significant subclinical disease.
SENIOR HEALTH SCREENS
- Complete Physical Examination
- White Blood Cell Analysis
- Red Blood Cell Analysis
- Platelet Count
- Major Organ Blood Profile(i.e. liver, kidneys, pancreas etc.)
- Stool Analysis
- Thyroid Screening
- Chest & Abdomen Radiographs
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
Why All These Tests?
Blood work: Thyroid Hormone is essential in regulating your pet’s metabolism. Complete Blood Count or CBC, can be used to diagnose and manage numerous disease conditions such as anemia, infection, inflammation, leukemia and clotting abnormalities. Serum Chemistry Profile can provide valuable information regarding various organ systems, (for example: the liver, kidneys & pancreas). Early diagnosis will allow for expedient treatment of any underlying problems
Urinalysis: The urinalysis is an extremely important laboratory test that can be performed here in our veterinary office. Examination of the urine can assist in the diagnosis of many different conditions including diabetes, urinary-tract infections, kidney and liver disease and many other conditions.
Radiographs: Can aid in the diagnosis of heart disease, internal abnormalities and osteoarthritis.