Senior Pet Wellness
Due to advances in veterinary medicine and the commitment of those in animal jobs, our pets are living longer and healthier lives. However, they can suffer the same ailments as senior humans, such as diabetes, dental disease, liver disease, kidney disease, stiff joints, heart disease and cancer. Since pets age seven times faster than their human companions–a 10-year-old 20- to 50-lb dog would be 60 in human years while a 10-year-old cat would be the equivalent of a 64-year-old human senior–it’s important to ensure senior pet wellness.
A routine, semi-annual physical exam with blood testing and other diagnostics along with your careful observation can assist the veterinarian in detecting possible problems. Diagnostics are usually recommended when pets reach the age of seven years old. The earlier your vet can detect conditions, the higher the possibility of adding more years to your pet’s life.
Symptoms of health issues include:
• Increased water intake
• Frequent urination
• Accidents in the house
• Changes in hair coat (thinning or roughness)
• Changes in skin color
• Inability (or unwillingness) to jump up
• Difficulty getting up
• Excessive drooling
• Bad breath
• Coughing or choking
• Reluctance to play or tiring easily
Types of Health Tests
Veterinary assistants may perform a number of tests, depending on your pet’s conditions, to assist the veterinarian in treating your senior pet’s health problem.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Complete Blood Count tests and chemistry panels can detect infections, identify problems with the liver and kidneys, assess the condition of the pancreas (which produces insulin and enzymes), and check the level of calcium and phosphorus in bones and electrolytes in the body.
Testing of the thyroid for hormonal imbalances can indicate the pet’s thyroid level. Too low of a thyroid level can result in weight gain, poor hair coat, and listlessness, while a thyroid level that is too high (mostly in senior cats) can cause kidney and heart disease along with weight loss.
Urinalysis and Parasite Exams
Urinalysis can help detect bladder and kidney problems. Parasite exams include flea control and identification of internal parasites, such as giardia, coccidia, hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms.
Heart Exams and Radiographs
Heart exams can detect heart murmurs. Further diagnostics using X-rays, ECGs and/or ultrasound imaging may be required if a murmur is found.
Skin Inspections and Eye Exams
Skin inspections include checking for bumps or changes in skin color, which may indicate cancer. Eye exams include checking for cataracts and/or glaucoma.
Dental exams are done to detect infections in the mouth and dental disease, which can occur by the time your pet reaches the age of seven years old. Tartar and broken teeth need to be removed and/or repaired.
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight through a good diet and plenty of exercise, scheduling him or her for routine exams and proper vaccinations, and giving him or her lots of love can help your pet live a longer, healthier life.
Source: Your Vet Connection