We know how important your pup is to your family, and they are just as important to us! As your dog enters the “golden years,” their health care needs change – with increased chances of diseases and age-related conditions. As we know, our dogs cannot tell us if they are sick, and with an older pet’s increased chances of illness, senior pet exams are key in keeping your furry family member healthy. With this in mind, we want to share some information with you on senior pet exams to help you make the most informed decisions for your dog’s overall health.
A very common question we get is, “When is my dog considered a senior?” It’s no secret that pups age faster than humans! According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, canines are generally considered “seniors” at age seven – although this can be different for each pet depending on their genetics, home environment, and overall health.
What can I expect during a senior check-up? Most senior exams contain these components:
- History: The exam typically begins with various questions – checking for any recent changes in their lifestyle, habits, appetite, mobility, mood, etc. We will also ask about their diet and any medications or supplements they are taking. This allows us to take a current “snapshot” of your pup’s health, seeing if any of these differences indicate a health concern.
- Complete Physical Examination: A nose to tail examination is conducted to assess the external appearance and body condition, checking for any abnormalities. We check their teeth and gums, feel for lumps and bumps, listen to the heart and lungs, feel and move the joints, and examine the abdomen for any internal organ changes that we may be able to feel from the outside. In a senior pet exam, we are looking for signs of aging such as dental disease, hyperthyroidism (specifically in felines) growths, heart disease, arthritis, and changes in the size of some internal organs.
- Lab Work: We recommend senior pets receive routine lab testing at least once a year. This helps us evaluate their overall wellness while detecting specific health conditions that may not be visible. Annual testing is also valuable because it indicates what ‘normal’ is for your pet. There is a range of normal for all of us – pets included – and conducting annual tests can show us those subtle drops or increases that could be pre-indicators in potential areas of concern. The tests recommended will vary depending on your specific pet’s needs, but the minimum testing suggested is a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis.
Aging typically means more visits to the doctor. We encourage you to bring your dog in at least twice a year for senior exams. Depending on their overall health condition, this number may vary, so make sure to talk with us at your next appointment about what is best for your pup.
Trust us when we say that we understand senior pets care sounds a bit overwhelming and scary at first. As the saying goes, “Prevention is the best medicine,” and more frequent vet visits will allow us to detect health conditions in a more timely manner. As your trusted partner in pet health care, we want to help ensure you can continue creating fun memories with your sidekick!