It can be hard to admit when we see the signs of aging in our animal companions, but the fact is that most dogs are considered seniors when they hit seven, and cats are seniors starting around nine. Pets age much more rapidly than humans, which means diseases and illness can start earlier and progress quicker. In addition, our pets often don’t show signs of illness in the early stages, and it can be easy to miss subtle changes that eventually lead to significant health problems.
To ensure that your pet has the longest, healthiest, most comfortable life possible, Avenues Pet Clinic encourages you to bring your senior pet for exams and blood tests at least once—and ideally 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 become big problems.
- Blood and urine tests are one of the most important parts of a senior exam. These laboratory 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 veterinarian may recommend a chest x-ray to ensure that the heart is a normal size and that there are no masses in the lungs.
- Dental disease is always a common problem for our pets’ health and comfort, and it’s particularly tough on older pets. That is why a dental exam is always part of any senior pet screening as well.
- Assessing your pet’s mobility for any signs of developing osteoarthritis is another big aspect of a senior wellness evaluation. Osteoarthritis is extremely common in dogs and cats and can significantly impact comfort and quality of life. You can see obvious things like stiffness, limping, or decreased willingness to exercise, but sometimes this can manifest (especially in cats) as them simply sleeping more and appearing withdrawn. Early diagnosis and intervention greatly improve the outcome over the long term, and regular senior check-ups will increase the likelihood of finding this early.
- Finally, behavior changes, even ones that seem subtle and easy to overlook, can indicate something significant is happening with your pet’s health. You should let your doctor know about any behavior changes you observe. For example, monitoring for signs of cognitive dysfunction—such as losing housebreaking, getting lost or wandering aimlessly—is very important.
To schedule a wellness exam for your senior pet, call us at 307-439-1546 or request an appointment online today.