Older pets make wonderful companions and thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer than ever. Your senior pet has medical needs that are very different from puppies and kittens. It is estimated that your pet ages up to seven times faster than you do. This may explain why as pets get older they are more likely to experience certain health and behavior problems. There are many health problems common to older cats and dogs that can be effectively managed or often avoided if timely measures are taken.
Unfortunately, just like us, animals are more likely to develop health problems as they get older, so if your pet is 6 years of age or older, we recommend a physical exam every six months rather than just annually, as well as wellness labwork to pinpoint health troubles before they have time to become major issues. This will enhance the length and quality of your pets life.
Routine comprehensive examinations, proper preventative care, and early diagnosis and treatment can help keep your senior pet a healthy member of your family for many more years to come. Don't assume the onset of house soiling, activity avoidance, barking more, or changes in sleep patterns are just "getting old". Many times it's a clue to a change in health status that we can help with!
As our pets enter into their senior years (6 and older) we will see the following changes:
- Their metabolism slows down
- They are more prone to cancer
- They are more prone to heart, liver, and kidney disorders
- They are more prone to skin problems
- Some pets will experience a decline in brain function
The most common medical conditions are:
- Heart Disease - Pets with heart disease can experience difficulty breathing, fatigue, exercise intolerance and lethargy. Medications may help make your pet more comfortable
- Endocrine disease - Diabetes, too much or too little thyroid hormone, Cushing's disease
- Kidney and Liver Disease
- Dental Disease
- Arthritis - Arthritic joints are not only painful, they make it difficult for your pet to climb stairs, run, or even jump into your lap
- Obesity - As your pets metabolism slows down, weight gain can increase his or her risk of arthritis, disc disease and diabetes
Our veterinarians can help you understand the true age of your pet and allow you to be proactive in helping maintain their health. To ensure the health of your senior pet, we have developed a Senior Wellness program to help your pet remain fit and healthy as he or she ages and help us catch any potential problems earlier, when they're easier to treat or manage.
Our program consists of the following:
- Physical Exam - We recommend twice a year physical examinations for our senior patients. Our doctors do a thorough head to tail physical evaluation. Physical exams can help detect health problems that can be overlooked at home. > <
- Senior Wellness Labwork - The senior labwork panel specials that we use at CRVC include a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry, thyroid level, urinalysis, fecal, and heartworm test. We have worked with our reference laboratory to combine these tests for a considerable savings to you.
Certain purebred dogs and cats are recommended to have screening electrocardiograms also based on genetic risk factors for heart disease. The age to begin screening varies with the breed.
We can improve your pet's quality of life in many ways: by identifying and preventing or reducing pain, recommending an appropriate nutrition and exercise plan, and suggesting other modifications to keep your pet comfortable. We will tailor a senior wellness plan to your pet's individual needs. If you have any questions, we would be happy to discuss!