Taking a moment to learn more about the special needs of your senior pet is the first step toward providing the best care for your companion in its later years. We place a special emphasis on senior care and are proud of the interest we take in geriatric medicine and the care of chronic disease.
Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer than ever, but your senior pet has medical needs that are very different from those of puppies and kittens. At Arden Shoreview Animal Hospital, we work with you to develop a health care plan that ensures your pet is safe and happy throughout his or her “golden years.”
Physical Examinations For Senior Pets
Pets age faster than people and are considered to be “seniors” around age 7. The best time to begin your pet’s senior care program and recognize the need for a little extra TLC is well before age related conditions begin to set in. We recommend all senior pets undergo at least one physical examination each year, though bi-annual examinations are encouraged. During an examination, we perform tests that can detect the signs of heart disease, infection, diabetes, and other health problems. In some cases, conditions that may look like the usual signs of “old age” could actually be signs of a more serious problem, such as arthritis, periodontal disease, kidney failure, or cancer.
There is also an important role for you to play as your pet’s primary caregiver. While you cannot control age related decline, you can influence your pet’s activity level, living conditions, daily nutrition, and access to quality senior veterinary care. With our help, you can manage these factors to prolong your pet’s good health, vitality, and increase his or her well-being, even as his or her pace slows a bit.
It can be hard to admit when we see the signs of old age in our animal companions, but the fact is that most dogs are considered seniors when they hit seven, cats around nine. Pets age much more rapidly than humans, which means diseases and illness progress quicker as well.
Blood Tests In Senior Pets
To ensure that your pet has the longest, healthiest, most comfortable life possible, Arden Shoreview Animal Hospital encourages you to bring your senior pet for exams and blood tests twice each year. This way, we can track how your pet is aging, and we’ll be more likely to catch any developing diseases before they’re big problems.
Blood tests are one of the most important parts of a senior exam. These blood screenings—often referred to as a “senior panel”— monitor red and white blood cell counts and reveal how well the kidney, liver, pancreas, and thyroid are functioning. Your vet may recommend a chest x-ray to ensure that the heart is a normal size and that there are no masses in the lungs.
Periodontal disease is always a threat to our pets’ health and comfort, and it’s particularly tough on older pets. That’s why a dental exam is always part of any senior pet screening as well.
Finally, make sure to let your vet know about any behavior changes in your pet. Once dogs and cat get to the geriatric stage, monitoring for signs of cognitive dysfunction—such as losing housebreaking, getting lost or wandering aimlessly—is very important.