In your pet’s senior years, many problems can occur, including life-threatening or debilitating conditions. These problems can be related to genetics and may occur even if you have been diligent about your pet’s diet, exercise, and general well-being. The risk of arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hormone disorders, and kidney and liver problems all increase with age, but pets may not show outward signs of some of these conditions until they are advanced. Early detection can improve the prognosis of many diseases, keep medical costs down, and help your pet live a longer, healthier life.
Life stages vary by species and breed, but dogs and cats are generally considered seniors at approximately 8 years of age. By this age, we recommend performing a baseline exam and diagnostic workup. This gives us a record of what is normal for your pet, and allows us to track of any changes which might indicate onset of systemic diseases. Thereafter, your senior pet will benefit from more frequent veterinary exams and diagnostic testing.
During your pet’s appointment, we will perform a complete, nose-to-tail physical exam. We will make sure your pet receives appropriate vaccinations and preventive care. As your pet gets older, their immune system may weaken, making it important to continue preventive care to protect against infections. In addition to the exam, we may recommend diagnostic testing — feel free at that time to ask questions concerning the tests and what we are checking for.
Senior pets are at higher risk of dental disease, which can be very painful, and may increase the risk of infections and other systemic diseases. Your senior pet’s exam will include an evaluation of the teeth, and further dental treatments may be recommended. Regular dental care will help keep your furry friend healthy and comfortable.
If your pet develops a medical condition or problem, it is important to watch closely to make sure they are responding well to medications or treatments. This allows us to adjust our treatment plan as needed to keep your pet healthy and comfortable. If your pet is on medications, they will require a minimum of a yearly exam and blood testing. However, some pets may need evaluation and diagnostics performed more often until their condition is stabilized.
It is important to remember that age is not a disease! Many symptoms commonly attributed to “getting older” can be a sign of treatable health conditions common in senior pets. We can help you improve your senior pet’s quality of life in many ways: by preventing, identifying, and reducing pain, recommending an appropriate nutrition and exercise plan, and suggesting environmental modifications to keep your pet comfortable. Even the symptoms of conditions like cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans) can be treated.
If you notice a change in your pet’s behaviors, energy level, or routines, or abnormal weight loss, this could be an early sign of many age-associated diseases. We recommend calling right away to schedule an exam.
We will tailor a senior wellness plan to your pet’s individual needs. If you have any questions, we would be happy to discuss our senior wellness program in more detail. Call us today to schedule your pet’s exam!