The Golden Years and Beyond: The Importance Of Regular Senior Pet Exams

A dog standing in a fieldAlthough your pet may hold fast to the passing vestiges of his or her youth, the truth is that time keeps marching on – for all of us. While some breeds have longer lifespans than others, your pet averages about seven years to every one of your’s.

Getting your aging or senior dog or cat checked twice a year may seem superfluous – especially in the absence of obvious symptoms – but regular senior pet exams are an excellent opportunity to identify age-related disease early, address behavioral issues, nutritional needs, and guarantee your pet’s health wellness for the remaining years.  

The Big Deal

If we’ve been fortunate enough to know your senior pet since his or her infancy, checking in every 6 months allows us to consistently monitor – and compare –all the facets of health. We often refer to your aging pet’s medical history which can, in turn, illuminate certain health risks connected to his or her individual lifestyle and activities that change with age.

If your pet’s “normal” readings, or baseline values, haven’t been recorded during past wellness visits, we don’t have a basis for comparison when “abnormal” symptoms arise.

Furthermore, we can discuss the need for parasite prevention, vaccinations, diet, and exercise all in fell swoop. Regular pet exams enable your senior pet’s caring team to support his or her long-term wellness.

But Why Twice?

We recommend seeing your pet twice a year after he or she turns seven years old. This is akin to you seeing your physician every 2-3 years.

Age-related illness is more common, and waiting an entire year can often place your senior pet at risk. Early diagnosis can often lead to a better outcome for your pet; left untreated, many diseases can decrease your pet’s longevity and quality of life.

Your pet was designed to hide weakness, and age-related illnesses have a range of symptoms you might not necessarily notice. Regular pet exams for your senior pet provide an opportunity to screen, test, and diagnose.

What You Can Expect

Typically, we’ll start by recording your pet’s weight and then your account of any behavioral changes or needs. Your pet’s veterinarian will then:

  • Examine each body system for health and potential abnormalities, such as new lumps or bumps
  • Listen to your pet’s heart
  • Palpate the abdomen
  • Evaluate your pet’s bones and joints, and pursue necessary physical therapy
  • Look inside the mouth for accumulation of plaque, tartar, and suggest supportive dental care
  • Suggest certain diagnostics to rule out illness, or help with conclusions
  • Run routine tests on blood, urine, or stool samples
  • Order X-rays or ultrasound employing digital technology
  • Discuss therapies for age-related illness, such as laser therapy for arthritis

How You Can Prepare

There are specific conditions or developments that you should be on the lookout for. It’s a good idea to jot down your observations, and bring them with you for your pet’s regularly scheduled exam. Things like:

  • Changes in drinking, eating, or elimination habits
  • Mood or behavior changes
  • Unexpected weight loss or gain
  • Signs of periodontal disease (bad breath, or halitosis, is a give away)
  • Decreased mobility
  • Vision loss or appearance of cataracts

Regular Senior Pet Exams

We advocate for your pet’s preventive health, stressing the importance of regular exams. Our experienced veterinarians and caring staff are always here to help you and your pet. Please contact us with any questions or concerns!