As your pets age increases, so do potential health problems. We recommend you bring in your senior pets twice a year instead of just annually. We want to be proactive in our approach to keeping your pets healthy and this semi-annual check-up will ensure that we are able to catch any age-related killers like cancers or organ failure. We will also be able to closely monitor their health and prescribe beneficial veterinary diets to combat weight, mobility problems, as well as bladder and dental health. You can’t change your dog back to a pup or your cat into a kitten, but you can ensure his last days are definitely happy ones.
Once your dog enters his golden years, our veterinarian recommends semi-annual exams to monitor your pet’s overall health. These dog exams will include a full physical, fecal sample screening, and diagnostic blood work. Since most dogs are experts at hiding the symptoms of illness, a full blood chemistry panel gives our veterinarian a snapshot of your pet’s internal health. Changes in white blood cell count or platelet counts can be indicative of a possible disease. The earlier we are able to detect these changes, the more our team can do to provide proactive treatment. Additionally, since an older dog’s immune system is not as strong as a younger dog, it cannot fight off diseases or heal as fast as a young pet can. Consequently, consistent parasite control and disease prevention through vaccination boosters are absolutely critical for your dog’s long-term health.
Diet and nutrition are two primary areas of concern for senior dogs. Older dogs often require foods that are more readily digestible and have lower calorie levels and anti-aging nutrients. Weight gain is common in older dogs, especially due to decreased activity level. Weight gain can lead to additional health problems including increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. Dogs that are overweight or obese may also experience more mobility difficulties and increased joint pain due to the greater pressure on their joints. If your dog has recently gained weight, our veterinarian can create a custom weight loss plan that ensures your dog receives a balanced diet and the right nutrients for their individual needs.
Cats can live an astonishingly long time — the record is 38 years. It’s our responsibility to ensure those extra years will be healthy ones. If your cat is getting up in years, you need to be aware of the special health and wellness challenges that older cats face. At our clinics, our skilled veterinary teams can provide senior feline care services from regular wellness checks to treatment of age-related diseases to help your cat enjoy this stage of his life.
Cats generally make the transition from middle-aged to geriatric between ages seven to ten. During this period, the metabolism may slow down, aches and pains may develop, and other age-related issues may manifest themselves. These can include weight loss and reduced appetite possibly due to a faltering sense of smell. Or, on the other side of the scale, obesity caused by arthritic joints that discourage activity. Older cats are at increased risk for heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer. They’re also vulnerable to dental problems such as periodontal disease and tooth damage. Your senior cat may also suffer from an odd condition known as tooth resorption, which is an erosion of the enamel below the gum line.
In addition to physical problems, a senior feline may exhibit behavioral changes. While most cats try to hide any sign that they’re in pain, senior cats afflicted with chronic pain conditions may display aggression. Incontinence may also appear due to a physical problem or it may be related to dementia.
If you have any additional questions about senior pet care, please contact Mercy Animal Hospital for more information.