Did you know that pets age faster than people and can be considered “seniors” at around 7 years of age? Nutritional needs, exercise habits, and many aspects of your pet’s daily routine may need to be adjusted as your pet ages.
But how can you tell the difference between “normal” aging and a medical problem? As in humans, some health issues that affect older pets can begin with very subtle changes that may go unnoticed until the problem becomes serious.
That’s one reason blood tests are an important part of a senior exam. These blood 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. Periodontal disease is a threat to our pets’ health and comfort, and it’s particularly tough on older pets, so a dental exam is part of any senior pet screening as well.
One of the most common conditions seen in elder pets is osteoarthritis. General symptoms in dogs include limping, spinal issues like a hunch or a back that is sensitive to touch, tiredness, loss of muscle and constant licking, chewing or biting sensitive areas. In cats, the symptoms may be more subtle, but usually a reluctance to jump or leap up as before is a tell-tale sign. We can help your arthritic pet feel more comfortable utilizing a variety of treatments including medication and physical therapy.
Finally, make sure to let us know about any behavior changes in your pet. Once dogs and cat get to the geriatric stage, monitoring for signs of cognitive dysfunction—such as losing housebreaking, getting lost or wandering aimlessly—is very important.