You’ve loved your pet since they were a puppy or kitten. As dogs and cats get older, they need more attention and special care. Age-related changes and pathological changes may both happen to your pet much faster than they happen in people. Our senior wellness program can help your pet remain as fit and healthy as possible while he or she ages and help us catch any potential problems earlier. Early detection of disease makes it easier to treat or manage. Regular veterinary exams can actually give your family more precious time with your pet!
On average, a pet is considered a senior by about age 7. However, senior status varies depending on your pet’s breed and size. Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs, and cats generally live longer than dogs. We can help you determine what life stage your pet is in.
Diagnosing diseases and certain conditions early is important throughout a pet’s life, but it becomes even more critical when your dog or cat enters his or her senior years. A year without an exam for a dog is approximately equivalent to 5-7 years without an exam for a human, so we recommend exams every 6 months. The risks of arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hormone disorders, and kidney and liver problems all increase with age. In addition, dogs and cats may not show any signs of even serious diseases until they are quite advanced. Some of the more noticeable changes you may see are:
- Decreased activity
- Less interaction and greeting behaviors
- Sleeping more, especially during the day
- Less response to verbal cues
- Weight gain or loss
- Dull hair coat
- Loss of sight or hearing
- Changes in urination
- Dental problems
- Digestive changes
- New lumps or bumps
Establishing a Baseline
Before your dog or cat reaches senior status, we recommend that you bring your pet in for a baseline exam and diagnostic workup. This will give us a record of what’s normal for your pet so we can keep track of any changes. In most cases, we suggest this checkup for when your dog turns 7 years of age or your cat turns 8 years of age.
After we have established a baseline, we can track changes in your pet by testing their blood. With this testing, we can gather information about many different systems in the body. Some diseases can be caught even before symptoms become apparent. This is important, because some problems, such as kidney and liver diseases, may not show symptoms until the disease is in its advanced stages. We recommend blood testing at least once a year.
Improving Quality of Life
We can treat many symptoms that are commonly attributed to age, including those associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to Alzheimer’s in humans). We can also improve your pet’s quality of life in many ways: by identifying and preventing or reducing pain, recommending an appropriate nutrition, supplements, and exercise plan, providing dental care that may be needed and suggesting environmental modifications to keep your pet comfortable. Your pet may even benefit from aquatic treadmill therapy or acupuncture.
We will tailor a senior wellness plan to your pet’s individual needs. If you have any questions, we would be happy to discuss our senior wellness program in more detail. Call us today at 856-875-1323 to schedule your pet’s exam!