Senior Dog Veterinary Care
Health care for your older pet goes beyond regular vaccinations, parasite control, dental cleaning, regular exercise, and good nutrition. Our patient-customized health care program seeks to not only promote health, but also prevent, or at least slow, disease by focusing on the body systems that are most affected by aging.
We begin the process by obtaining a complete patient history and performing a thorough physical examination. Knowing what to look for is extremely important. That’s why we believe in performing screening procedures so that we always have accurate information about your pet’s needs and can provide the care required to prolong and improve the quality of your pet’s life.
During this exam we will evaluate the following:
- Weight/senior nutritional issues
- Skin for masses, parasites, or hair loss
- Musculoskeletal system to assess for arthritis
- Eyes for cataracts or infection
- Ears to look for mites or infection
- Teeth and gums and discuss dental care
- Heart and respiratory system
- Abdomen through palpation to evaluate the intestines, kidneys, and liver
We will also perform the following laboratory tests:
- CBC, or complete blood count—This test helps in the diagnosis of cancer, infections, anemia, dehydration, clotting problems, blood parasites, and bleeding problems and provides clues to the status of your pet’s immune system.
- Serum chemistry profile—This test is used for assessing the function of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and other organs and for early diagnosis of diseases such as diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes), kidney and liver failure, and sometimes cancer.
- Thyroid level (T4)—This test is used for assessing the function of the thyroid gland, which helps to regulate the metabolism of the body.
- Urinalysis—A urine sample will be checked for evidence of infection and to assess kidney function. It can detect early kidney problems (before changes are seen in the blood), evidence of diabetes, infections, liver disease, and bladder stones.
- Blood pressure—High blood pressure is especially common in older dogs with kidney disease. It can lead to heart problems or blindness.
- A heartworm antigen test
- Additional testing will be recommended as needed, and may include EKGs, X-rays, or adrenal gland testing.
All screening procedures will be discussed with you at the time of your appointment. The test results and any treatment plans will also be discussed with you within 48 hours of your visit.
Remember, just as when people have an annual physical, in most cases the results are normal. Even then, it’s good to know that everything is “all right” and the evaluation provides valuable baseline data on which to compare future results. If a condition is revealed, you know it has been discovered as early as possible and treatment can be started.