Senior Pet Wellness Checkups

Growing old is difficult for everyone, even pets. A program to monitor your aging pet's health can help prevent age-related disorders.

Every year we celebrate another candle on our birthday cake bringing us one year closer to being "old". But what if, instead of every birthday bringing us one year closer to that golden age, it brings us 4,5, or even 7 years closer? That is the life of your pet. So, how old is your pet? Are they considered senior? Geriatric? Is your pet about to transition from his/her adult years to their senior years?

No matter what the age of your pet, proper diet, vitamins, regular exercise and routine medical checkups should be a basic part of their lives. The fact that our pets age more rapidly than we do allows diseases and other health problems to develop more rapidly in them. Our best defense against health problems are awareness and prevention. If we can spot the warning signs early enough, we can help ensure our pet a smoother transition from their adult years to their senior years.

Some warning signs that may indicate your pet is beginning to suffer from age related problems are:

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Below is a checklist to print out and keep handy. Being alert to signs and symptoms of various diseases, age-related or not, will help you get the proper treatment sooner, and may even prevent more serious conditions from developing if diagnosed early.

The good news is that most of these problems are controllable if caught early on. Although you can't turn back the clock, there are things you can do to keep your older pets healthy and “young-at-heart”. A Senior Pet Wellness Exam and Senior Blood work is one step you and your pet can take on the road to a comfortable old age together.

So what is "Senior blood work"? Senior blood work can help detect hidden issues that may not be outwardly observable in your pet. By establishing a baseline, your veterinarian can use it to diagnose future problems by comparing those tests to this newly established set that is being made while your pet is healthy. This new baseline can also be compared to past blood work to make sure no hidden health issues exist. Blood work usually takes only a day or two, and is recommended annually for senior pets.

Senior blood work tests may include a CBC, (Complete Blood Count) Blood Chemistry, and a T4 (Thyroid Profile). Your vet may also recommend a urine sample for a urinalysis. All of these tests work harmoniously to see just how well your pet's body is functioning.

Other tests recommended for senior pets at this wellness visit are the following:

  • EKG - to check heart function
  • Radiographs (x-rays) - chest films to check heart and lungs
  • Abdominal films (x-rays) - to evaluate liver, kidneys, bladder, intestinal tract and check for any abnormal masses
  • Pelvic/Spinal films (x-rays) - check for arthritis or some forms of cancer
  • Fecal sample - check stool for presence of parasites or blood

The cost of these tests may seem expensive and even unnecessary, especially when your pet seems happy and healthy. However, when you compare the expense of serious illnesses and surgeries, and the cost of medications and treatments, along with the pain and anguish to both you and your beloved pet, these will seem trivial in comparison. Prevention coupled with your love and care will help you and your pet enjoy many happy and healthy senior years.

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