Advancements in veterinary medicine have helped to increase longevity and enhance the quality of life of cats, dogs, and other animal companions. And, when it comes to our geriatric fur pals, one of the best ways we can keep them at their healthiest – while slowing down some of the impact of aging – is through senior wellness pet care.
When is my pet considered a senior?
As you may know, our pets age much more rapidly than we do. One year doesn’t seem like a long time to us, but it comprises a significant portion of the life of a four-legged companion.
As a general rule, dogs over the age of 7 and cats over the age of 10 are considered senior pets, although in canines there is a tremendous difference between breeds. Small dogs, for example, usually reach their geriatric stage after age 9.
Despite the estimation that roughly 40% of all households pets are seniors, a mere 15% receive the screenings and examinations they need.
This is troubling when there are many conditions that could be prevented or slowed in progression through diagnosis and treatment.
Why do seniors benefit from more comprehensive veterinary care?
Hopefully, from the time you adopted your young or adult pet, you maintained those important bi-annual physical examinations examinations. The reason for these, beyond vaccinations, screenings, and physicals, is that it allows us to establish a baseline of health for your pet at a time when health is generally stable.
As a pet ages, changes occur at a cellular level that prohibit regeneration, and this progressively allows environmental and genetic factors to degrade organ health and function.
In fact, most pets in their geriatric years will be diagnosed with multiple conditions, some of which may even predispose them to pain or life-threatening risk.
But, wouldn’t I know if my pet was in pain or ill?
Not always. In fact, there are many conditions, diseases, and even the presence of significant pain, that are not always obvious to pet guardians or simply do not manifest as overt symptoms.
Some of the more common conditions found in senior pets include:
- Diseases of the eyes, like glaucoma and cataracts
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Hip dysplasia
- Kidney disease
- Tumors (which can turn malignant)
- Thyroid conditions
What Does Senior Wellness Pet Care Include?
At Whole Pet Vet Hospital & Wellness Center, we approach senior wellness with a focus on prevention and early detection, as well as providing therapeutic services that complement traditional veterinary medicine.
Your visit will include a thorough nose-to-tail physical examination of the pet patient, which includes assessing the eyes, ears, teeth, and gums. This examination can also provide insight into any changes to weight and the musculoskeletal structure, as well as allow us to palpate the organs, noting any abnormalities, and monitor for lumps or changes to the skin.
In reviewing the findings, consulting with you, and referring to medical records, we can quickly determine any changes and move to utilize more comprehensive diagnostics.
These might include any of the following:
- Complete blood count
- Biochemistry profile
When problems are found, we can expedite the waiting time and develop a treatment plan, since our lab and imaging services are available on-site.
Early detection and proactive treatment can alleviate unnecessary pain and the progression of many conditions that plague so many loveable pets in their golden years.
Author: Your Whole Pet Vet Team