Caring for an animal as they age is part of our responsibility as pet owners and caregivers. It is important to understand that as an animal ages, their lifestyle and needs change. Thus, our approach to veterinary care must change and evolve as well. These patients often require more attention and an understanding of what their bodies are experiencing.
Once a dog or cat reaches the middle-aged years (typically 6-9 years old), it is recommended to begin performing annual baseline bloodwork panels in addition to their routine annual visit. This is done to screen for early signs of diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, thyroid disease, and others. Often times we can detect early bloodwork changes before clinical symptoms are seen in the patient. With any illness, early detection and intervention typically allow for a better prognosis and management of the disease.
Annual bloodwork (possibly more comprehensive panels) and urinalysis tests, are recommended for senior pets (typically 10 years and older). A physical exam is recommended for senior pets every 6-12 months. If your pet is experiencing signs of lameness or stiffness, your veterinarian may discuss arthritis management with you. This often begins with daily, long-term glucosamine and omega-3-fatty acid supplements (fish oil). If further pain management is needed, your veterinarian will discuss safe medication options for your pet.
Monitoring for the onset of symptoms at home is crucial in early detection of age-related illnesses. It is important for you to inform your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms with your pet: weight loss, change in appetite, increased thirst or water consumption, increased urination or urinary accidents, vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, distended abdomen, lethargy, etc. A physical exam is always recommended if you have any concerns about the health of your pet.
While the aging process is an inevitable part of life, we can do our best to make the transition for our beloved animals as smooth and comfortable as possible. The doctors and staff at Goodfriends Veterinary Clinic are here to help you provide the best quality of life for your pet.